The disruptive emergence of Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) caused by the pandemic, even though RPM has existed in the shadows for many years, prepared the way for increased sensitivity and raised more significant concern about the importance of cost, quality, and accessible healthcare services.
Due to the deliberate avoidance of trade-off discussions among stakeholders over the Iron Triangle (costs, quality, and care), much of the debate over health care reform has become nonsensical. Conversely, while progress has been achieved in health care reform over the years, none of it has genuinely contributed to reducing the pain points in health care caused by high costs, low quality, and poor access to health care.
This year marks a year of change, as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced its final rule on the new reimbursement codes for RPM, which may be considered the most significant product of health care reform in many years.
What is Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)?
There are numerous definitions available, but the most basic is the collection and analysis of patient physiologic data to establish and manage treatment plans for patients suffering from chronic and/or acute illnesses or conditions.
By looking at the term, RPM does not necessarily occur while the provider is in the presence of the patient. Instead, it occurs digitally in the sense that the provider can still collect and analyze the patient’s data regardless of where they are and whenever necessary. Keeping this in mind, this form of treatment model will allow for timely and appropriate medical intervention.
Healthcare providers can now bill RPM through the five key Medicare RPM CPT codes, 99091, 99453, 99454, 99457, and 99458, due to the final rule issued by CMS
How is RPM during COVID-19 and beyond?
When the pandemic hit the world, healthcare quickly rose to the top of everyone’s list of concerns. Thus, stakeholders have expressed heightened concern and sensitivity about improving healthcare, not only now but for many generations to come, even beyond the pandemic.
The increased demand for treating COVID-19 patients prohibits other patients from receiving their clinicians’ treatment in a healthcare facility. Using RPM, patients can have their doctors monitor them even while in the comfort of their own homes, reducing cross-infection and helping them live healthier lives. The new normal will continue to exist, as will RPM.
How RPM reduces healthcare costs?
With healthcare spending accounting for approximately 18 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), RPM will make a significant contribution to reducing spending, allowing patients to manage chronic conditions better, avoid costly hospitalizations and medical emergencies.
Since individuals will be able to decide how they can control their health, RPM can drastically lower total healthcare costs. In addition, RPM reduces readmissions by a significant amount, as measured by numerical figures, to the point where patients would not have to spend as much money.
Benefits of Remote Patient Monitoring to Patients
1. Efficiencies and greater patient satisfaction
It’s nothing new for healthcare providers to have their hands full with treating COVID-19 patients on a daily basis. However, RPM allows providers to spend less time not only on prevention-based patient services but also on chronic disease management. As a result, quality and patient engagement measures improve when focusing on prevention rather than treating a patient’s chronic disease. Furthermore, because the spending is less than having the patient undergo hospitalization or surgery, providers are not exposed to the financial risk of capitated payment systems. This is especially true for For-providers who can generate a higher RPM per episode.
2. Time Consumption and Costs for Patients
Managing a chronic disease or condition, such as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, COPD, or obesity, can be expensive and time-consuming. RPM models are designed to assist patients in preventing illnesses and injuries and avoid hospitalization in the first place. As a result, patients have fewer doctor’s appointments, medical tests, and procedures, and they spend less money on prescription medication as their short- and long-term health improves.
3. Claims and Reduced Risk
When the risk is spread out over a larger patient population, the risk is reduced. Thus, as a result of RPM, a growing number of healthy populations will emerge. This results in fewer claims, which reduces the strain on payers’ premium pools and investments.
4. A revolutionary care model
New healthcare delivery models, such as Remote Patient Monitoring, emphasize a team-oriented approach to patient care and data sharing. This is done to create coordinated patient data, from which RPM can easily measure outcomes. In addition, the spread of RPM is altering the way physicians and hospitals provide care, i.e., instead of focusing on the actual treatment of a serious episode of disease, physicians are now focusing on prevention. These interventions, administered prior to the onset of a disease/illness, are intended to prevent, or reduce the risk of developing a serious health problem, such as stroke or myocardial infarction.
The future of RPM
Providers are increasing their use of RPM-based models as the healthcare landscape continues to develop and evolve. They will incur no short-term financial costs as a result of the numerous medical benefits associated with RPM. This will result in an additional decrease in their long-term costs. Thus, embracing RPM as the best strategy for reducing costs for both providers and patients is not a vain proposition; instead, it is tangible, real-time, and evidence-based; all while improving care quality and assisting patients in living healthier lives.
How DrKumo Helps
With the new RPM CPT codes scheduled to be implemented in 2021, there will be evidence-based additional revenue and cost savings for both providers and patients. All of this is made possible by RPM technologies such as DrKumo’s credible preventive-treatment capabilities, which the industry continues to focus heavily on.
While it is true that reducing readmissions and increasing patient satisfaction are critical components of implementing RPM in the healthcare sector, there can be little doubt that RPM will shift the economy toward a more reasonable and quantifiable return on investment.