The amount of Telehealth and Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) programs being utilized in a patient’s home has soared since the onset of COVID-19. As hospitals continue to limit admissions of noncritical COVID-19 patients, more at-home treatments are being offered. Many hospitals and health systems have adopted telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM) programs to expand their patient support. They’re using telehealth to screen for COVID symptoms and also monitor COVID-positive patients beyond the symptomatic period, continuing to monitor patients that have been deemed “recovered.”
What is Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)?
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) is an ambulatory form of health care that allows a patient to use digital technologies to collect one’s own health data in one location and electronically transmit that information securely to health care providers in a different location for assessment and recommendations in real-time. Some forms of remote patient monitoring are also referred to as “home care telehealth.” In 2019, it was given this specialized CPT code: G2010 for reimbursement. In the reimbursement context, it is also referred to as “Remote Evaluation of Pre-Recorded Patient Information.
It is typically used either in or at a distance from the clinician’s office; RPM involves the regular (daily) measuring and reporting of health functioning. Ordinarily, RPM requires the professional use of electronic information and telecommunication technology across distances to support clinical health care, health-related client/patient and professional education, public health, and health administration. Telehealth and RPM technologies include videoconferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications. RPM can include “peripheral” attachments to one’s smartphone or independent devices. These peripherals connect to the telephone in the pre-existing ports at the base of the smartphone, where earbuds and similar attachments can connect.
As such, smartphones can serve as built home-health stations to monitor and report conditions such as:
- COVID-19 symptoms and side-effects
- Glucose for patients with diabetes
- Heart or blood pressure monitors for patients receiving cardiac care
- Pulmonary function monitors for patients with asthma or emphysema
- Some behavioral issues.
State Regulation of Asynchronous Remote Patient Monitoring Telehealth
More than 50% of the states now require coverage for asynchronous telehealth, that is, telehealth that allows a client’s or patient’s data to be collected, stored in a secure cloud-based platform, and later retrieved by another treating professional or staff, often in a different location. Remote patient monitoring services are now required to be covered by commercial health plans in 17 states. An important advantage of RPM is that it provides frequent monitoring at less cost. Telehealth regulations by state exist for reimbursement of remote patient monitoring. On other fronts, telemedicine laws and telehealth licensure laws by states are also being updated to meet the growing needs for behavioral health.