Many physicians’ practices are turning to remote patient monitoring (RPM), also called remote physiological monitoring, as a viable therapeutic strategy in the treatment of adult hypertension. In this post, the Medek Patient Care Team provides valuable insight on RPM and how this technology can be an excellent addition to traditional in-office patient care.
A Public Health Burden of Immediate Concern
Almost one half of the adult population in the US has been diagnosed with hypertension. What’s even more alarming is that most of those adults do not have their condition under control.1 As healthcare providers, you know what this means: preventable emergency room visits and hospitalizations, disability, and tragic loss of life.
The economic burden of hypertension and the related medical conditions is literally staggering. A 2018 study put the estimated total cost at $131 billion per year or higher.2
This compels all who work in the healthcare industry to take meaningful steps in preventing hypertension and its related debilitating conditions (e.g. heart attack, stroke, aneurysm). However, high patient loads, medical inflation, and a continuous shortage of qualified staff make it difficult to help our patients achieve their best possible selves. Then, of course, there’s the looming demands of meeting revenue requirements and protecting the bottom line.
The American Medical Association (AMA) sees remote patient monitoring solutions as fundamentally changing the way healthcare is delivered. It’s a digital system that documents patient physiologic data. Although nothing can replace the physician-patient relationship, RPM is seen as an important strategy for improving patient health outcomes.3 The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) agree.
Reimbursement for Remote Patient Monitoring
The potential benefits of remote patient monitoring for adults with hypertension are reflected in the decision of CMS to significantly expand reimbursement by designating the following CPT® Codes:
The above codes cover the broad continuum of patient care, including initial set-up and patient education, data collection, and follow-up monitoring.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCE: Details on Medicare CPT® Codes and reimbursement figures.
The Implementation Process
The execution of the remote patient monitoring system through Medek is highly structured yet relatively simple. The process begins with the prescription from the physician. After patients receive training and other support from the Medek staff on how to enter their physiologic measurements, HIPAA-Secured data collection can begin. The Medek Patient Care Team logs and analyzes the data and communicates with the physician’s medical practice team. Physicians are informed of any concerning readings.
The Medek RPM System includes the following:
- Blood pressure cuff
- Glucose meter
- Pulse oximeter
- Weight scale
It’s important to note that physicians, as well as their medical practices, don’t need to painstakingly log the data. This task is all part of the Medek process. Still, the patients’ personal healthcare providers can view and make healthcare decisions based on real-time data at any time.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCE: Remote Patient Monitoring Revenue Calculator
Many Benefits for the Patient
Real-time data collected between routine visits benefits the patient in several ways:
- Healthcare providers get a perspective on patient compliance between appointments.
- Physicians can utilize data findings as a jumping-off point for patient education, important conversations, and treatment recommendations.
- Patients get the opportunity and training to manage their own health. This results in patient empowerment and effective self-management.
- Patients receive continuous feedback regarding their physiological status.
- Physicians can be alerted of any concerning measurements and ask patients to come in for a face-to-face visit or possibly go to the ER.4,5
Results from Evidence-Based Literature
Clinical investigations have long been focused on treating and preventing hypertension. Admittedly, the specific term of “remote patient monitoring” may be slightly different. However, the studies still looked at patients who took blood pressures at home and transmitted it electronically to be reviewed by physicians and other healthcare professionals. Numerous investigations documented positive health outcomes for patients who routinely took blood pressures in the home setting.
An extensive literature review of 176 articles, 15 of which met inclusion criteria and were analyzed in detail, showed positive results. All but two of the articles indicated that telemonitoring of blood pressure levels improved hypertension in patients. The effect was comparable to improvements noted in the use of some hypertensive drugs.6
Similar results were reported in a randomized controlled trial. The study indicated that when patients were able to take their own blood pressure from home and transmit it electronically, it led to more favorable blood pressure readings than in the control group.7
In an investigation accurately yet cheerfully described as a “real-life non-randomized study,” researchers concluded that patients who participated in remote monitoring of blood pressure (but also had support from physician-directed nursing staff) were able to make improvements in managing their high blood pressure.8
The major strength of Medek’s remote patient monitoring system is the ability of patients to consistently take readings for vital signs, blood sugars, and weight, comfortably in their own homes, without enduring the frequent frustrations of transportation.
When this process is interfaced in-person (or even virtually) with a personal healthcare team, patients essentially get the best of both worlds. They are passionately supported by a dedicated team of expert providers (that’s you) while at the same time accepting control and responsibility for their health. Such a great combination!
Want to learn more about how Medek can help you maximize health outcomes as well as create additional revenue streams?
- Million Hearts. (2021, March 22). Estimated Hypertension Prevalence, Treatment, and Control Among U.S. Adults. https://millionhearts.hhs.gov/data-reports/hypertension-prevalence.html
- Kirkland, E. B., Heincelman, M., Bishu, K. G., Schumann, S. O., Schreiner, A., Axon, R. N., Mauldin, P. D., & Moran, W. P. (2018). Trends in Healthcare Expenditures Among US Adults With Hypertension: National Estimates, 2003-2014. Journal of the American Heart Association, 7(11), e008731. https://doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.118.008731
- American Medical Association. (n.d.) Remote patient monitoring implementation playbook overview. https://dir.md/practice-management/digital/digital-health-implementation-playbook-step-3-defining-success?host=www.ama-assn.org.
- LeadingAge (n.d.) [updates a 2013 paper]Telehealth and Remote Patient Monitoring for Long-Term and Post-Acute Care: A Primer and Provider Selection Guide. https://leadingage.org/white-papers/telehealth-and-remote-patient-monitoring-long-term-and-post-acute-care-primer-and
- AbuDagga, A., Resnick, H. E., & Alwan, M. (2010). Impact of blood pressure telemonitoring on hypertension outcomes: a literature review. Telemedicine journal and e-health : the official journal of the American Telemedicine Association, 16(7), 830–838. https://doi.org/10.1089/tmj.2010.0015.
- Parati G, Omboni S, Albini F, et al. (2009). [Abstract] Home blood pressure telemonitoring improves hypertension control in general practice. The TeleBPCare study. J Hypertens 2009;27:198–203.
- Bernocchi, P., Scalvini, S., Bertacchini, F., Rivadossi, F., & Muiesan, M. L. (2014). Home based telemedicine intervention for patients with uncontrolled hypertension–a real life non-randomized study. BMC medical informatics and decision making, 14, 52. https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6947-14-52