The information in this article was adapted from our recent webinar, 2022 Trends in Remote Monitoring: What Healthcare Providers Can Expect from the Year Ahead.
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) had a strong year in 2021. Clinical research continued to demonstrate the effectiveness of RPM in improving clinical outcomes while reducing healthcare costs. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced new CPT® codes that will expand billing opportunities for remote monitoring. Payment parity among commercial insurers similarly continues to climb. To take one example, through our insurance Eligibility Verification service, we’ve been able to confirm, on average, coverage for 60% of commercial patients, and we expect that percentage will only continue to increase.
With all that promising news, we frequently get asked, what’s going to happen in 2022? While we aren’t fortune tellers, we do have a firm grasp on the RPM industry. Here are the trends we anticipate will impact RPM in 2022.
Trend #1: The CMS Reimbursement Landscape will Continue to Evolve
All signs point towards CMS continuing to expand coverage of remote monitoring. Five new CPT® codes will be introduced in 2022 to cover Remote Therapeutic Monitoring (RTM). RTM expands the conditions and types of devices that providers can use for remote monitoring as well as the types of providers that can order RTM and the types of data that can be evaluated.
While that is all positive news for providers and patients, some details of the codes are still subject to interpretation. RTM codes are general medicine codes, whereas RPM codes are Evaluation/Management codes. General medicine codes do not allow “incident to” services, but CMS has left the door open for continuing “to refine the coding for RTM services to address some of the specific concerns raised by stakeholders.” Just as RPM codes evolved over time, we expect the same to happen with RTM.
Trend #2: Post-COVID PHE, Telemedicine Will Remain an Essential Means of Healthcare Delivery
COVID-19 didn’t create RPM or telemedicine, but it has greatly accelerated the adoption of telehealth and remote care. Telehealth spiked during early COVID lockdowns when there were no alternatives for routine patient visits. While telehealth usage has declined from the early COVID peak, it has stabilized at a volume about 38 times higher than pre-COVID times. Patient’s habits and expectations have fundamentally changed to the point where 25% of people would switch providers for better remote care options.
Patients of all ages are becoming more tech-savvy and adopting technology at a higher rate. Many grandparents learned to use Zoom, FaceTime, or other video tools for the first time to stay connected with loved ones. This willingness and ability to try new technologies will have implications for remote care adoption.
42 percent of US consumers use devices or monitors to measure health and fitness metrics. Consumers are realizing this data is not just a benefit for themselves. Patients, especially those with chronic diseases, are now more willing to share data with their physicians than ever before.
Trend #3: Pandemic-Fueled Technologies are Changing the Competitive Landscape
In 2019, 11 percent of patients used telehealth. Now, 76 percent are interested in using telehealth and 74 percent of telehealth users report higher levels of satisfaction with their healthcare. Remote care is no longer a nice-to-have for high-performing practices. It’s a must-have.
All the trends are pushing in the same direction – more healthcare delivered in the home with more devices to collect information. While physician offices and hospitals will never go away, McKinsey and Company estimates that $250 billion – or 20 percent of all outpatient, office, and home health spend – could be delivered virtually.
Many players in the industry are offering telehealth and RPM, including some of the newer and more innovative, tech enabled providers such as One Medical (primary care “in your PJs”), VillageMD (“primary care for the nation”), Carbon Health (“get treated right from your phone”), and ZoomCare (“we’re in your community and on your smartphone too”).
Independent practices that typically only competed with other local practices are now competing with providers across the country. Individual practices are not as protected by geography as they used to be. And healthcare consumers are shopping around more than ever.
Trend #4: Staffing Crunches will Increase the Demand for Managed Services
With COVID burnout still having a profound impact on healthcare providers, it’s no surprise that the nursing turnover rate in the past 12 months was 15.8 percent, up 4.7 points from Q2 2021. Some of the top reasons that nurses are leaving their current jobs include:
- Insufficient staffing levels
- Intensity of workload
- Physical toll of job
- Family and/or other competing needs
The industry needs innovative solutions to take advantage of limited resources. The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) is a one-such solution that enables providers to better share and pool resources as geographic boundaries become less meaningful. Another is bringing more nurses back to the workforce with innovative, remote positions. A nurse unable or unwilling to work on a hospital floor or physician office may be open to a flexible, work-from-home position caring for patients remotely.
Strategies for Embracing Future Trends
So, with all these trends pushing more and more care outside of the traditional office setting, how do you future-proof your practice?
The simple answer is make 2022 the year you invest in providing remote care experiences your patients will love. RPM allows you to increase communication and engagement with your patients. Not only can RPM improve clinical outcomes and empower patients to take more control of their healthcare, many patients report a great sense of comfort and satisfaction knowing that a qualified clinician is checking on them daily.
With the right partner, RPM can be relatively easy to launch with low (or even no) upfront costs relative to other forms of virtual care. And with managed RPM services, RPM can be a minimal investment of your staff’s time with additional billing opportunities from a separate set of RPM-specific CPT® codes.
RPM for Your Practice in 2022
Ready to meet your patient’s demands and expectations for excellent remote care? Schedule a call with one of our RPM experts. We can help you determine if RPM makes sense for your practice.
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