Many behavioral clinicians have not yet been introduced to some of the newest alternative technical modalities, including remote patient monitoring (RPM). Others aren’t clear about how it can help them improve treatment outcomes in their practices. RPM involves digital tools that allow clients and patients to collect, analyze and send useful behavioral data to either the consumer’s phones or the clinician’s electronic health record (EHR).
In behavioral care, remote patient monitoring devices can help monitor sleep, diet, exercise, mood, and more. The need to gather data on patients or clients without seeing them in person makes the atmosphere perfect for RPM use, and the government has been very willing to support and encourage increased utilization alongside telehealth. The efficacy of such tools is so high that Medicare has reimbursed for an increasing number of new RPM-related CPT codes for the last several years. See Telehealth.org’s Increased Reimbursement for Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) and Remote Patient Monitoring Telehealth Can Increase Revenues while Improving Care for further explanation of RPM benefits for clients and practitioners.
An Optimistic Path For Remote Patient Monitoring
As the United States shows signs of moving beyond the health crisis, however, RPM’s fate seems increasingly ill-defined. Some, like writer Eric Wicklund, express lots of optimism for RPM’s future. He predicts it will be a key component of behavioral health care going forward.
He feels certain that the strong health effects will help, but that won’t be all that fuels RPM’s momentum. As he explains it, “Private payers see this as a means of reducing unnecessary costs and improving care management at home, improving clinical outcomes down the line, and also as a means of pushing health and wellness.”
Others strike a more cautious tone. Dr. Julie Henry has seen an encouraging shift in how the topic of RPM has been discussed as of late. Still, she stresses that this is just the start. There remains the need to help ensure people know how effective a tool RPM is for bringing about good health outcomes.
Support for RPM
Dr. Julie Henry’s concerns likely come from two different sources. The first is that it is not enough for private payers to like RPM, as Wicklund stated. They have to get out and argue for it. Without significant moves now by the industry, they may well see the current acceptance of RPM dissipate.
The second source is the level of government involvement. As noted above, the government has been very supportive, thus far, of RPM. This support, though, has been temporary. To secure Remote Patient Monitoring going forward, the federal and state governments will have to pass legislation to expand the use of Remote Patient Monitoring on a more permanent basis. They can also further help the cause by standardizing the payment level for RPM use.
H.R. 4347, a bill with bipartisan sponsors Representatives Troy Balderson and Katie Porter, has been brought to the House of Representatives and seems promising. In addition to Republicans and Democrats collaborating on its crafting, several industry organizations like the American Heart Association and the Health Innovation Alliance have come on board to endorse the bill. If passed, the bill will likely provide the template for states to adopt similar stances.
The past 16 months have revealed how useful a tool RPM can be. During this time of transition, the possibility of it being recognized as an important ongoing tool in affecting good health outcomes is as high as ever. These next few months will prove critical in utilizing the current momentum to realize that goal.
Advocacy Call to Action
We at Telehealth.org encourage all of you to be advocates for change by contacting your elected officials. One letter will suffice. Clearly state your desire for them to shepherd or support legislation that will reimburse clinicians to use evidence-based technology to deliver 21st Century healthcare. Include a case example without identifying any patient or client, and send it to all relevant state and federal representatives. It is only with a groundswell of citizen support will this legislation pass at this moment of opportunity. Otherwise, this inflection point will pass without a significant change being legislated.
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