What is the silver lining of the dark cloud known as Covid-19?
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for significant change in our healthcare system. Whilst Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) is not new, it is taking on a more significant role in healthcare and the evolution of technology is making for some interesting RPM advancements. The best RPM systems use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to provide more sophisticated monitoring capabilities resulting in more meaningful data to enable better management of patients with chronic conditions.
According to the CDC, 90% of the nation’s $3.8 trillion spent on annual healthcare is for people with chronic health conditions. Monitoring the progression of chronic diseases and proactively managing the healthcare plans for these people can reduce these costs.
Cardiac arrhythmia, or abnormal heart rhythm, is just one of the chronic conditions that can be better managed through remote monitoring technologies. Atrial fibrillation, the most common form of cardiac arrhythmia, is also a leading indicator of stroke, with about 15 percent (or 105,000) of strokes occurring in people with atrial fibrillation. According to the CDC an estimated 12 million people in the USA will have AFib by 2030.
It is well recognized that RPM has the potential to transform how health care providers and their patients–particularly seniors with chronic conditions–communicate and manage their conditions. The physiological data provides a more complete picture of the patient’s health over time providing better insight into trends and alerting the physician when intervention is required. This technology can not only improve the quality of care given to patients, it also reduces the need for frequent visits to the doctor’s office, costly emergency room visits, and unnecessary hospitalizations. RPM is particularly beneficial for people discharged from hospital since it can monitor and identify early signs of deterioration and signal the necessity for intervention before readmission is required.
A study assessed the impact of RPM in Medicare beneficiaries on hospitalized patients with heart failure. It concludes that ”hospitalization time was shorter in RPM groups than in control groups, and RPM groups had lower hospitalization costs.” This observation is due to the early detection of exacerbations thanks to RPM.
How does AI and ML fit into RPM?
Newer RPM systems will go beyond basic data tracking and alerts. They will use AI to gather information about every aspect of patient interaction in order to produce statistics and identify trends, to create strategies to improve patient engagement. They will use ML to interpret data trends and predict the probability of future deterioration in patients that warrants proactive treatment.
Features of a comprehensive RPM
- Easy to use devices with cellular technology (no fussing about connecting to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth)
- Workflows for patient, practice and care coordinators, designed to improve patient outcomes
- Auto Alerts when monitored parameters exceed thresholds and appointments automatically set with care providers
- Sophisticated system that uses AI and ML powered predictive analytics
- Dashboard which presents the data in a simple format for use by patients, care team and even family
- Automated and Integrated Billing system
Medicare New Codes
Medicare patients can enjoy remote monitoring service in addition to practice, and hospital visits, that are usually provided in person. Care providers can reduce staffing burdens, enhance patient care and increase their revenue by providing services that can be billed using the following CPT codes.
Code 95453 – Remote monitoring of physiologic parameter(s) (e.g., weight, blood pressure, pulse oximetry, respiratory flow rate), initial set-up, and patient education on equipment use.
Code 95454 – Initial device(s) supply with daily recording(s) or programmed alert(s) transmission, each 30 days.
Code 99457, 99458 – 20 minutes or more of clinical staff/physician/other qualified healthcare professional time in a calendar month requiring interactive communication with the patient/caregiver during the month.
Being aware of technological advances and knowing how to implement a comprehensive intelligent RPM system optimizes patient care and allows care teams to be notified of any clinical changes that could harm the patient’s health. This allows for early diagnosis, timely action in the event of any irregularity or predicted health issue, more accurate and proactive treatments, and enhanced doctor-patient communication.
The pandemic has confirmed it. RPM was seen as the future, but the future is already here.