An Ounce of Prevention
Thinking about investing in a remote patient monitoring system (i.e., software and connected patient devices) for your practice? You're like many practices these days. Remote patient monitoring, or RPM, was already gaining popularity before the COVID-19 health crisis. This can be attributed, in part, to the 2020 changes to CPT codes that propelled RPM into the spotlight as the most lucrative Medicare care-management program as well as providers increasingly embracing technology to support the health and wellness of their patients. When the pandemic hit, the value of providing remote patient monitoring services to patients who were expected to reduce travel and direct contact with others became even more apparent. The federal government recognized this as well, which is why it permanently expanded Medicare coverage of RPM services from just those with chronic conditions to those with chronic and/or acute conditions, among other changes that supported the expanded use of RPM. The future of virtual health services like remote patient monitoring is brighter than ever. Federal and commercial payers are supporting them, and patients are looking for them. Now it's up to practices to meet the demand. With the RPM industry growing, practices have an increasing number of remote patient monitoring system options to choose from. Making an informed decision on which remote patient monitoring system to invest in may prove the difference between whether an RPM program, which includes the software and services provided using it, successfully meets patient and practice needs or if the investment is one that a practice regrets. Before choosing a remote patient monitoring system, answer these five questions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a spotlight on the value of digital health and its ability to effectively engage patients and deliver care. The widespread adoption of digital health is likely to change the way healthcare is delivered here in the United States after the health crisis is behind us. While not a new concept, one of the most exciting changes is the increasing usage of new remote patient monitoring (RPM) technologies. In an effort to keep the most vulnerable patients healthy amidst social distancing guidelines, practitioners and insurers like Medicare are finding that RPM technology offers a good solution to keeping patients with chronic health conditions home and safe while still effectively monitoring their disease progression.
The documentation requirements for the Medicare annual wellness visit (AWV) serve multiple purposes. Most importantly, documentation is critical to maximizing the value of the Medicare AWV to patients. As AARP notes, the Medicare AWV is "… designed to promote the use of preventive care, identify health risks, and plan for future healthcare needs." In addition, the Medicare AWV is an opportunity for patients to meet with providers who can also deliver or schedule preventive services, such as vaccinations and cancer screenings.
Little good has come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are some silver linings. One is the increased adoption of virtual healthcare services and delivery systems. This includes remote patient monitoring, or RPM. Remote patient monitoring was a concept foreign to most individuals before the health crisis, but that is slowly changing as providers increasingly adopt the service and order it for their patients. Yet many people still lack a firm understanding of remote patient monitoring, so we thought it would be helpful to dedicate a blog that focuses on the RPM definition, including providing an RPM meaning in medical terms and contrasting the concept of remote patient monitoring with other terms often associated with it.
Over the past decade, remote patient monitoring, or RPM, has been slowly gaining momentum. 2020 was already expected to be a big year for RPM, but “big year” turned out to be an understatement. The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred RPM into the spotlight, positioning it to become an essential health-care delivery service, embraced by providers, payers, and patients. Even with all the publicity, there has been a bit of confusion about what types of care fall into RPM. Depending on the article you read, “Remote patient monitoring” can be used as a general term, a CPT coded service, or as a term of art. We wrote this fact sheet to help clarify things for both providers and patients alike.
Healthcare providers have found themselves under immense pressure to maintain continuity of care during the COVID-19 crisis, but many aspects of the U.S. health system were not designed to support such an effort. To help providers more effectively deliver care that will not only keep patients healthy but also in their homes and away from hospitals, which are largely focused on treating COVID-19 patients, government agencies, commercial payers, and other healthcare organizations have worked to change the system. Approaches taken include the creation of new and expansion of existing telehealth and remote tools and support, including remote patient monitoring (RPM). For example, we have seen federal waivers and revised state regulations that greatly expand the ability for healthcare providers to deliver telehealth and remote services; commercial payers revising their policies to pay for these services, and healthcare companies offering resources to help providers more effectively leverage telehealth and remote services during the crisis. If your practice is considering launching or growing an existing telehealth and/or remote services program during the pandemic, here are five things you should know.
Los Angeles, CA – May 4, 2020 – Prevounce Health, creators of the Prevounce Care Coordination Platform, announced today the release of its powerful new Remote Patient Monitoring software and connected patient device program.
The annual wellness visit (AWV) is an important tool for providers to track and help manage the health and wellbeing of their Medicare patients. Social distancing is crucial to combat our current health crisis, but so is maintaining continuity of care with your most vulnerable patients. Fortunately, Medicare understands the importance of the AWV, and included it in it's initial §1135 waiver so that it can be performed entirely via telehealth on any Medicare beneficiary. As of 4/30/20, Medicare further waived restrictions, and now allows Annual Wellness Visits to be conducted via audio-only telehealth (i.e. over the telephone) for the duration of the waiver.
Updated: 10/13/2020: US Health and Human Services have extended the health emergency to January 21, 2020. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced a significant, temporary broadening of telehealth services coverage.
When you conduct an online search for information about the Medicare annual wellness visit or AWV, one of the first resources you will find is an independent reference tool called Medicare Interactive. Its description of the AWV is as follows: "The annual wellness visit (AWV) is a yearly appointment with your primary care provider (PCP) to create or update a personalized prevention plan." Going by this definition, one might believe that the answer to the question "Who can perform the Medicare annual wellness visit?" is a PCP. End of story, right? Far from it.