Benefits of Remote Patient Monitoring

That remote patient monitoring is experiencing rapid adoption rates, as we’re seeing at Prevounce, comes as no surprise, considering the significant and wide-spread benefits to providers. In short, RPM is an efficient and effective way for practitioners to closely monitor a patient’s chronic health conditions without requiring the patient to physically visit an organization.

If you need convincing of remote patient monitoring’s benefits, just consider some of the recent statistics about RPM’s growing adoption rate that have been shared:

  • A survey conducted showed that more than 23 million U.S. patients used RPM services and tools.
  • A poll of 1,300-plus Sermo physicians revealed that more than 8 in 10 were seeing patients via video or telephone.
  • Nearly nine out of 10 healthcare providers indicated that they had invested in or were evaluating remote patient monitoring technologies, according to the American Medical Association

This increased adoption comes as no surprise, considering the real benefits to the quality of care that can be delivered via remote patient monitoring. Let’s look into some of the research. A study from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), titled “Connected Health and Remote Patient Monitoring:
Consumer and Industry Use,” provides valuable insight. Among those included in CTA’s national survey were more than 2,000 adults, 100 primary care physicians, 60 endocrinologists, and 40 nurses.

The top three benefits of remote patient monitoring cited by patients were:

  1. Detailed information on personalized health
  2. Faster access to healthcare services
  3. Greater influence on their own wellbeing through ownership of health data

Healthcare professionals highlighted:

  1. Improved patient outcomes
  2. Improved compliance rates
  3. Patients taking more ownership of their health

Certainly, another appealing quality of RPM is that the service is covered by a growing list of insurers and reimburses well. On top of advantages like these, there are several other factors contributing to the upward trend of remote patient monitoring usage. Between public health concerns and challenges associated with delivering care to an aging population, RPM looks like it’s here to stay. Practitioners across the country are finding this virtual service to be enticing as a safe and effective means of maintaining the delivery of healthcare to some of their most vulnerable patients. 

Also driving the increase in remote patient monitoring usage is that the United States is facing a shortage of practitioners. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is projecting a primary care practitioner shortage of as many as 55,000 practitioners by 2033. Compounding the physician shortage is that the country is expecting an overall population growth of more than 10%, with people over the age of 65 increasing by more than 45% over the same period. Since practitioner shortages are inevitable, RPM represents a smart solution to maintaining quality patient care while expanding access to care and reaching more patients efficiently and effectively.

The Real Cost of Chronic Health Conditions

Unfortunately, our reactive way of trying to treat chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes,
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and many others, when symptoms arise rather than
managing them costs a tremendous amount of money. The United States currently spends roughly $3.5
trillion on treating chronic and mental health conditions, reports the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC). That’s nearly 90% of our total annual healthcare expenditures.

The cost of healthcare is a painful pill to swallow for everyone. Consider the following about
common chronic conditions that can be effectively managed by practitioners and patients
by leveraging remote patient monitoring:

  • Heart disease: One-third of all annual deaths in the United States are attributed to
    heart disease and stroke. That’s more than 859,000 Americans. Equally concerning is the fact that these two diseases alone cost our healthcare system around $200 billion annually, and cost U.S. employers about $130 billion annually in lost productivity.
  • Diabetes: The United States currently has more than 34 million people living with diabetes and another 88 million sitting on the proverbial diabetic cliff known as prediabetes. Alarmingly, diabetes is costing Americans more than $325 billion in medical and lost productivity costs.
  • COPD/asthma: The current projected cost of chronic lung issues is around $50 billion annually, with the condition causing U.S. workers to miss collectively more than 16 million days of work per year.

Thanks to the benefits of remote patient monitoring, practitioners and patients are finding that managing these and other chronic conditions is often much easier than they believed was possible. Beyond proactively managing the costs associated with chronic conditions, RPM offers tangible benefits to patients that are hard to deny.

Value of Remote Patient Monitoring for Patients

Let’s review five ways patients benefit from remote patient monitoring:

  1. Better access to the healthcare team — Since RPM devices report real-time health data, practitioners are kept in the loop on their patients’ current health status, providing patients and caregivers with more peace of mind.
  2. Fewer trips to the practitioner’s office — This means less exposure for patients to other illnesses and fewer expenditures in time and money for travel.
  3. Improved quality of care — With RPM, practitioners gain a more holistic understanding of a patient’s health condition, which can lead to more accurate adjustments in medications, fewer emergency room visits, and more time between in-office visits. 
  4. More control over personal health — RPM typically comes with a user-friendly application for a phone or tablet that provides patients with instant analysis of their wellbeing. This allows for small adjustments to their daily lifestyle that can strengthen management of a condition and help patients better recognize abnormal changes and developments.
  5. Better support and education — the healthcare team receives more comprehensive information about a patient’s health status, practitioners can provide better individual support and education.

Financial Benefits of Remote Patient Monitoring

As noted, remote patient monitoring doesn’t just deliver clinical benefits. It provides financial benefits to patients and organizations. Updates by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to rules and reimbursement guidelines for remote patient monitoring have allowed the service to expand and grow tremendously. Officially covered by original Medicare, CMS has outlined coverage rules that Medicare Advantage plans must also follow. Most other private insurance companies follow the lead set forth by Medicare.

For Medicare patients, they should expect copays until they meet their deductible. Once the deductible is met, remote patient monitoring is covered at 80% and beneficiaries can expect to pay on average about $25 per month for each month of monitoring. While this might seem significant, consider the real cost of in-person office visits for close monitoring of chronic health conditions. Between travel time and its associated expenses as well as the wait time in a potentially infectious waiting room, $25 monthly seems like a small price to pay. Another consideration is the cost of hospital admission for unchecked exacerbations of chronic diseases, which in some cases can total in the thousands.

Meanwhile, for organizations, remote patient monitoring is one of the more lucrative Medicare care management programs. To learn more about RPM reimbursement and billing and coding for RPM, check out this blog post and this billing guide.

Benefits of Remote Patient Monitoring for Payers

Health insurance companies, recognizing the growing consumer demand for and cost savings associated with telehealth, are launching “virtual-first” health plans. This insurance makes telemedicine a foundational part of the patient’s care, essentially serving as a digital “front door” that allows patients to access virtual healthcare services that guide them to in-person care, when needed. If virtual-health plans are successful and achieve their objectives, the results should be more frequent, improved care access that also lowers costs, among other benefits.

Remote patient monitoring may be the most beneficial of the non-clinical remote services that health plans can consider integrating into virtual-first offerings. RPM allows patients to take vitals measurements in preparation for virtual visits and can be used as part of a care plan to show patients’ progress in a more comprehensive way between visits. To learn more about virtual-first health plans and how RPM effectively fits into them, read this column.

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