Several factors have contributed to the increasing use of remote patient monitoring. Between public health issues during the pandemic and challenges related to providing care to an aging population, remote patient monitoring seems to continue. Practitioners across the country find this virtual service attractive because it is a safe and effective way to provide medical care services for some of the most vulnerable patients. For example, research cited by the American Heart Association shows that remote cardiac monitoring can significantly reduce patients' blood pressure compared to typical care and self-monitoring alone. As another example, studies of remote pulmonary disease monitoring have shown that such interventions are particularly relevant to improving asthma control and reducing the use of emergency drugs, among other benefits. Another attractive quality of remote patient monitoring is that the service is covered by more insurance companies and can be well reimbursed.
Another reason for the increase in the use of remote patient monitoring is the shortage of employees in the United States. The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicts that there will be a shortage of up to 55,000 primary health-care practitioners in the next 12 years. The shortage of doctors is exacerbated by the fact that the overall population growth rate is expected to exceed 10%, and the population over 65 years old will increase by more than 45% in the same 12 year period. As the shortage of practitioners is inevitable, remote patient monitoring is a wise solution that can maintain high-quality patient care, expand access to care and effectively benefit more patients.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has updated the rules and reimbursement guidelines for remote patient monitoring, enabling the service to be expanded and developed. CMS is formally underwritten by the original Medicare, and outlines the underwriting rules that Medicare Advantage must also follow. Most other private insurance companies will eventually follow Medicare's requirements.
For Medicare patients, they should expect co-payments until they reach the deductible. Once the deductible is reached, the coverage rate of remote patient monitoring is 80%, and the beneficiary is expected to pay an average monitoring fee of about $25 per month. While this seems important, consider the actual cost of visiting the office in person to closely monitor chronic health conditions. Between travel time and costs and waiting time in the waiting room for potential infections, $25 per month seems to be a small price. Another consideration is the cost of hospitalization for chronic diseases that worsen without examination, which in some cases may reach thousands.