October 6, 2021

All You Need To Know About Remote Patient Monitoring

Remote patient monitoring system

During the past 18 months, healthcare leaders have been confronted with the necessity of being able to reach patients outside their health systems. Although access to care has been a long acknowledged challenge, the impetus to act has never been more critical than during the pandemic, which has led to a significant turning point in innovation. By allowing providers to reach patients outside the in-hospital encounter, a comprehensive remote patient monitoring (RPM) strategy can proactively reduce the risk of complications and readmissions and contain burgeoning total care costs.

One of the biggest hurdles for healthcare organizations are the growing costs associated with musculoskeletal care, and keeping up with the evolution of patient centricity to comply with modern reimbursement models. Providers need a 360 degree view of their patients when they are outside their purview in order to improve outcomes while reducing the overall cost of care.

At last, musculoskeletal procedures are experiencing the same shift to digital healthcare. This change is long-over due based on sheer volume of Americans struggling with chronic muscle, joint and bone pain, in addition to the cost correlated with musculoskeletal episodes of care and readmissions.

As the digital health landscape becomes increasingly crowded with competitors offering nearly identical solutions, organizations and employers will search for unique and comprehensive remote patient monitoring companies with fully customizable solutions to integrate into pre- and post-operative care.

Force Therapeutics has put together this comprehensive guide to help understand what remote patient monitoring is, what an RPM tool can do for your organization, and how to cut out the noise within the competitive remote health monitoring landscape to choose a solution that offers everything your organization needs, and more importantly, everything that the company promises.

Here’s a quick overview of what we will cover in this guide:

    1. What is remote patient monitoring?

    2. Examples of remote patient monitoring

    3. Benefits of remote patient monitoring and billing for RPM codes

    4. Frequently Asked Questions

    5. Choosing a Remote Patient Monitoring Company

What is Remote Patient Monitoring?

Remote patient monitoring (RPM), also commonly referred to as remote physiologic monitoring, uses digital technologies to collect medical and other forms of health data from individuals in one location and electronically transmit that information securely to health care providers in a different location for assessment and recommendations. This type of service allows a provider to continue to track healthcare data for a patient once released to home or a care facility, reducing readmission rates.

Originally, CMS described remote patient monitoring as services oriented towards patients with chronic conditions, however, declared in the 2021 Final Rule that providers are welcome to remotely collect and analyze physiologic data from patients with acute conditions, as well as patients with chronic conditions.

Examples of Remote Patient Monitoring

Within the MSK landscape, there are a multitude of data points that RPM software should be compatible to collect. In this space, there are four primary Medicare codes that are CPT codes that must be documented in order for providers to be reimbursed for their time.

Data points that RPM tools collect

Monitoring programs can collect a wide range of health data from the point of care, such as:

  • Vital signs, weight

  • Blood pressure

  • Blood sugar

  • Blood oxygen levels

  • Heart rate

  • Electrocardiograms

Collected data points throughout the episode of care are then transmitted to health professionals who can act on the information received as part of the treatment plan. The data informs providers whether the current course of care is appropriate, or if individuals require additional attention in order to properly manage their pain and recover.

Because care teams are able to immediately address potential issues, there are far fewer complications, readmissions, and increased patient satisfaction.

Examples of codes that can be documented with a telehealth monitoring system

Just like you would bill for a normal in-person visit, virtual care documentation has to include what happened during the visit (exam, assessment, questions asked etc) and which provider performed the visit.

Hospitals and physicians using remote patient monitoring companies, such as the Force platform, have the opportunity to be reimbursed for their time. Here are some examples of codes that are intelligently collected and stored with our remote patient monitoring app:

  • Virtual check in codes i.e. Patients uploading a wound picture to Force

  • E-visit codes: i.e. Standard check-in with patients (what would normally be done in person)

  • Outpatient office visit codes

The four primary Medicare RPM codes related to MSK are CPT codes:

99091

  • Collection and interpretation of physiologic data (e.g., ECG, blood pressure, glucose monitoring) digitally stored and/or transmitted by the patient and/or caregiver to the physician or other qualified health care professional, qualified by education, training, licensure/ regulation (when applicable) requiring a minimum of 30 minutes of time, each 30 days)

99453

  • Remote monitoring of physiologic parameters (i.e. weight, blood pressure, pulse oximetry, respiratory flow rate)
  • Initial set-up and patient education on use of equipment

99454

  • Devices supply with daily recordings or programmed alert(s) transmission, each 30 days
  • Initial collection, transmission, and summary of services to the clinician managing the patient

99457

  • Remote physiologic monitoring treatment management services, 20 minutes or more of clinical staff and physician qualified health care professional time in a calendar month requiring interactive communication with the patient/caregiver during the month
  • Interpretation of the received data and interaction with patient on a treatment plan by a clinician

Exhibit

Monitoring surgical incision sites via force’s messaging platform

Prompt identification and treatment of wound complications is essential after procedures like joint arthroplasty, but emergency visits for urgent evaluation of normal incisions are undoubtedly a main source of unnecessary cost. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of a digital patient engagement platform for remote monitoring of surgical incision sites.

In order to conduct this study, we performed a review of 1,434 hip and knee arthroplasty patients who registered for an online platform in the perioperative period. We reviewed images sent by patients to evaluate potential wound abnormalities. Medical records were reviewed to determine whether assessments based on wound photographs corresponded with subsequent in-person findings and ultimate disposition.

We concluded that the utilization of an online physician-patient messaging platform can prevent unnecessary visits for normal appearing wounds, while facilitating rapid in-person treatment of wound complications.

Read the full study here: Monitoring Surgical Incision Sites in Orthopedic Patients Using an Online Physician-Patient Messaging Platform

Remote Patient Monitoring Benefits

Remote patient monitoring establishes the ability for the provider and care team to closely monitor the recovery journey in real-time, outside a clinical setting.

Insider Intelligence estimates 30 million US patients, or 11.2% of the population, will use RPM tools by 2024—marking 28.2% growth from 23.4 million patients in 2020.

Exhibit

Remote patient monitoring tool utilization chart

Financial benefits

Incorporating a remote patient monitoring system into your organization is a long-term strategy for increasing your revenue flow from procedures. Determining whether there is coverage and payment for digital medicine services and technologies that you want incorporated into your practice will require research and a plan.

Payers have a wide range of coverage policies as well as a variation of payment amounts. However, both commercial and state Medicaid programs are influenced by Medicare’s policies, so it can be anticipated that other health insurers will expand coverage as well.

In order to bill on RPM codes, the following must be checked:

  • The patient must opt in for the service

  • Device must meet the FDA’s definition of medical device

  • Device must be supplied for at least 16 days to be applied to a billing period

  • The service must be ordered by a physician or other qualified healthcare professional

  • Data must be wirelessly synced where it can be evaluated

  • The data-monitoring services may be performed by the physician, by a qualified healthcare professional, or by clinical staff. Clinical staff may include RNs and medical assistants, depending on state law

Exhibit

Leveraging technology to support same day discharge in total joint population

The purpose of this white paper is to showcase how Northside Hospital utilizes technology to support their same day discharge program, and analyze patient reported outcome data trends between the hospital and ASC setting. In this white paper, we retrospectively reviewed methods of implementing this program through leveraging technology, and outcomes following surgery for analysis.

By leveraging technology, Northside Hospital was able to optimize and prepare patients for this shift, standardize their multidisciplinary approach, and review and analyze patient reported outcomes for evidence-based care clinical decision-making.

Here is the full study: Leveraging Technology to Support Same Day Discharge in the Total Joint Population.

Patient activation benefits of remote patient monitoring

Patient Opt-In

Patients who opt-in to a digital care platform leads to significantly higher global function and as patients reach successive levels of activation, organizations see improved results in patient reported outcomes.

In fact, patient activation may be considered a modifiable predictor of patient reported outcomes after MSK procedures such as THA.

So, how do Force help our clients increase patient volume?

  • Improved surgeon ratings

  • Increased “Willingness to Recommend” score in the (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) HCAHPS survey

  • Help earn Center of Excellence Distinction Program status

  • Research enablement with abstract submission and journal publications

Increased Number of Patients under Management

Patient under Management is a term we use to describe how many patients have opted-in to our platform, and are currently under the care and management of their care providers. Force has experienced a 50% increase just over the past month in Patient under Management for our clients.

Why is this so important? Among many reasons, the vast influx of data can help providers address care gaps, reduce the risk of complications and readmissions, and contain unnecessary costs.

Improved Patient NPS Score

Gathering patient NPS feedback can dramatically improve patient loyalty in your health care practice. In addition to monitoring individual recovery journeys, remote patient monitoring platforms should be equipped to seamlessly gather patient NPS scores and responses, in order for providers to analyze the feedback and request reviews from patients with positive experiences to boost hospital reputation.

If there are detractor responses, this gives you a great opportunity to follow up and find out more about how you can improve your services.

This year, Forbes published an article that breaks down to use patient NPS scores effectively:

  • Use a simple survey

  • Promote the survey

  • Pay attention to NPS feedback

  • Show your patients you care about their feedback

  • Improve your services

  • Consistently monitor NPS reports with your team

  • Strive to improve the patient experience, not the score

  • Acquire more patient referrals by implementing a referring program

Frequently Asked Questions

What is remote patient monitoring?

  • Remote patient monitoring (RPM) uses digital technologies to collect medical and other forms of health data from individuals in one location and electronically transmit that information securely to health care providers in a different location for assessment and recommendations. This type of service allows a provider to continue to track healthcare data for a patient once released to home or a care facility, reducing readmission rates.

Why is remote patient monitoring important?

  • Remote patient monitoring programs facilitate same day discharges, patient independence, reducing length of hospital stays, improves necessary intervention time, and minimizes readmission rates; all of which can lead to higher patient satisfaction, lower costs, and better outcomes.

What conditions qualify for remote patient monitoring?

  • Remote patient monitoring can be utilized in various situations where it is beneficial to both the patient and the health team to have a patient at home. This can include older individuals able to live on their own longer, individuals who have to travel long distances to reach their care provider, out-patient facilities that rely on same day discharge. Lastly, remote patient mentoring is simply a way to diligently collect patient recovery data that can inform and lead to important studies in patient care practices. This can include patient reported outcomes (PROs), pain levels and management, mobility levels, physical activity, and physical therapy hours logged.

Is remote patient monitoring considered telehealth?

  • Monitoring programs can collect a wide range of health data from the point of care, such as vital signs, weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and electrocardiograms. This data is transmitted to health professionals who can act on the information received as part of the treatment plan.

What are examples that remote patient monitoring technology can collect?

  • Monitoring programs can collect a wide range of health data from the point of care, such as vital signs, weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and electrocardiograms. This data is transmitted to health professionals who can act on the information received as part of the treatment plan.

What is the difference between telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM)?

  • Remote patient monitoring refers to the use of a specific technology to facilitate interaction between clinicians and patients at home, telehealth is a broader term that refers to the entire industry, methodology, and technologies that enable that type of healthcare. RPM, then, is type of telehealth delivery system. And the term telehealth may, in turn, refer to remote patient monitoring — but it may also be used to refer to a great deal of other things, too.

How common is remote patient monitoring?

  • As the orthopedic industry continues to propel towards technology-dependent remote care, patient monitoring tools will continue to grow in importance and popularity. Many health systems are already utilizing this technology to manage his patient volumes in remote settings, both pre- and postoperatively. This technology is especially common in hospitals and ASCs where same day discharge is favorable.

How do hospitals use remote patient monitoring?

  • Remote patient monitoring tools allow hospitals to differentiate themselves and be more competitive with ASCs by supporting same day discharge models that ultimate save money, hospital resources, and patient and physician time.

Choosing a Remote Patient Monitoring Company

There is a growing list of remote patient monitoring companies that claim to offer identical services. The hurdle organizations face today is finding software programs that offer truly comprehensive tools that leverage AI and automate otherwise manual processes, in order to adequately track and monitoring patients for the best possible outcomes, reimbursement, and patient satisfaction.

Our best piece of advice to choosing a remote patient monitoring company is to analyze the historical data the company has to show for. Data has the ability to shine a light on what a remote patient monitoring system is truly capable of doing for provides and patients alike.

Ask data-oriented questions such as:

  • How much has the RPM application reduced readmission rates for current clients?

  • What is the current patient opt-in rate to your software?

  • What is the average percent increase in patient NPS scores?

Questions like these will help weed out companies who can talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.

Healthcare technology like Force Therapeutics was designed with patients at the forefront of each and every innovation. MedCity News recently stated, though healthcare technology is not able to suit up and physically join the care team, and IT specialists might not be able to personally assuage patient fears; there are ways leaders in the healthcare IT space can help create environments that support care teams, patients, and families, to lessen or eliminate gaps in care and engagement.

Force continues to illuminate the pathway for the most technologically advanced patient engagement and monitoring system, with patient interests and needs at the forefront of each and everything innovation.

Interested in learning more about our 360-degree remote patient monitoring solution? Schedule a demo.