The use of remote patient monitoring has surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to one Medicare beneficiary Analysis published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The study reviewed traditional Medicare claims from January 1, 2018 to September 30, 2021 and searched for remote patient monitoring (RPM) CPT codes. This included new codes Introduced in 2019 to track general physiological data. The researchers then compared general RPM usage during the pandemic to continuous glucose monitoring, a more specific case with different CPT codes.
They found that overall RPM usage increased from 91 requests per 100,000 enrollments in February 2020 to 594 requests per 100,000 enrollments in September 2021, a 555% increase. During the same period, CGM use increased by just 42%.
The study also analyzed how these RPM services were used and by which practitioners. During the pandemic, GPs provided 63.1% of general RPM. In the meantime, 19.7% were offered by cardiologists and 4.1% by pneumologists.
The most common primary diagnosis for RPM care was hypertension, which accounts for 62.5% of RPM services. Diabetes accounted for 8.3%, while sleep disorders accounted for 3.9% of the claims and hyperlipidemia, or high cholesterol, for 3.5%.
Researchers found that primary diagnosis varied within specialties; For example, sleep and breathing disorders accounted for 76.4% of the overall RPM for pulmonologists. Overall, GP hypertension surveillance dominated RPM usage during the pandemic, accounting for 42.7% of services.
WHY IT MATTERS
Although still small, the growth in RPM could have a serious impact on costs if usage continues. The study authors point to many Medicare beneficiaries Having high blood pressure, a major use case seen in this analysis.
However, they argue that more research is needed to find out when RPM is most useful.
“The costs must be weighed against the potential benefits of RPM, such as: B. reducing hospital admissions. Randomized clinical trials of RPM have shown mixed results overall, but some targeted use cases have shown promise,” the researchers wrote. “Further research is needed to identify clinical scenarios where RPM is most beneficial and to understand which patients are using it and whether there are groups that face access issues.”
THE BIGGER TREND
A variety of companies offer RPM technology. Biofourmis, which focuses on AI-powered surveillance as well as digital therapeutics, was recently added an additional $20 million to its $300 million Series D raise announced in April.
Connected health tech company Withings too launched its own RPM service with its wearables, scales and sleeping pads, while Alio received FDA 510(k) clearance for a monitoring system that collects skin temperature, auscultation and heart rate data.
Meanwhile, the Digital Medicine Society (DiMe) last month released four toolkits aimed at helping healthcare and life science organizations leverage sensor data from wearables and RPM systems at scale.