Leveraging technology to advance remote patient monitoring (RPM) has the potential to unlock efficiencies for clinicians in the areas of patient outreach, identification of at-risk patients, an improvement in care initiatives. A recent article featured in MedCity News not only highlighted these potential benefits but also detailed CMS’ current and suggested future efforts to support RPM.
The article advocates for the removal of the existing barriers actively preventing the widespread adoption of digital technologies as a means to better care. Medicare reimbursement for telehealth and remote patient monitoring technologies totaled just $28.75 million in 2016, less than 3 percent of CMS’ annual budget. Despite the statistics, CMS has taken an important first step in recognizing the value of RPM technologies.
In November, CMS announced that it will support and reimburse providers using remote monitoring technologies in 2018. In furtherance of these efforts, CMS will unbundle and activate CPT code 99091 (collection and interpretation of physiologic data) from the traditional chronic care management programs. This will allow provider reimbursement for time spent collecting and analyzing health data that is generated by patients, digitally stored, and transmitted to the providers. Further, CMS should recognize the equipment, facilities, non-physician medical staff, and technologies that are required to drive these innovations to scale and provide robust reimbursement for these services.
Given the trends in the healthcare market, and CMS’ reaction to those market forces, healthcare organizations should start adopting RPM technologies to benefit from these regulatory incentives. Such incentives will continue to grow as healthcare providers further embrace digital solutions and CMS recognizes the benefits of those technologies to patient populations, particularly in underserved or remote areas.