What’s new for remote patient monitoring (RPM) in 2023? While the 2023 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule didn’t include any changes to RPM (or chronic care management), there are still some developments that providers should be aware of. With that in mind, here’s a look at the remote patient monitoring trends that could impact healthcare organizations in the year ahead.
Remote patient monitoring trends: 5 things to expect in 2023
#1: Covid-19 continues to be impactful, in different ways
We’re now at about the three-year mark of the arrival of Covid-19 in the United States. And, while tremendous progress has been made in treating and preventing the virus, it’s still causing significant disruption — especially in areas that are also struggling with high rates of flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
While social distancing and mask measures are largely absent this time around, most hospitals and healthcare facilities are still operating with extreme caution. And that means a continued use of remote patient monitoring to help isolate patients from one another, as well as to more effectively care for a surge of high-risk patients who have neglecting preventive care.
Indeed, in what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is calling the “postpandemic” phase, the disastrous effects of Covid-19 on the “prevention, identification, and management of chronic disease” may soon be keenly felt. In addition to a potential surge in utilization from high-acuity patients, the wellbeing of patients needing everyday care has deteriorated pretty much across the board.
“COVID-19 has resulted in decreases of many types of health care utilization, ranging from preventive care to chronic disease management and even emergency care,” the CDC adds. “Cancer screenings, for example, dropped during the pandemic. … We have lost ground in prevention across the chronic disease spectrum and in other areas, including pediatric immunization, mental health, and substance abuse.”
What’s the takeaway? As a powerful tool for treating chronic conditions, look for the use of RPM to grow even more this year, and look for the federal government to support that growth. The 2023 Final Rule, for instance, has been interpreted as extending provisions for the use of remote care after the end of the Covid-19 public health emergency (PHE) — which was just extended, but may still end in 2023.
#2: The increased use of home care
Along with RPM, the use of home-based care skyrocketed during Covid-19. And after three years, this is another trend that’s now more or less established as the norm. As patients and providers have come to enjoy the convenience and cost savings of remote care, the trend of moving certain processes from the hospital to the home — or from the long-term care facility to the home — is set to continue.
“Time is at a premium for patients and providers. We’re in the rush culture. Our patients are impatient. They want it now,” as Travis A. Miller, MD, FACAAI of the ACAAI Advocacy Council said in a presentation on the use of RPM for the treatment of patients with asthma and respiratory disorders. “This really drives our reliance upon telemedicine, so we’re just going to have to accept that as part of our future.”
Of course, RPM devices that deliver continuous or near-continuous monitoring play a key role in the delivery of this home-based care that patients demand. In the past few years, RPM has been instrumental not only in moving key processes like post-acute transitions and the management of high-risk patients to the home, but also in improving the effectiveness of care for those patients.
“The traditional approach to managing chronic disease is intermittent and episodic,” as Robert Pearl and Brian Wayling explain at the Harvard Business Review. “The combination of telemedicine and wearable devices allows for more-frequent medication adjustments, resulting in faster and better disease control and fewer complications at a lower total cost.”
And patient-friendly devices that deliver remote monitoring capabilities are increasingly critical in delivering this kind of results-driven home care. Even in those areas that may be pulling back on home care after the pandemic, these easy-to-use remote devices can be readily transferred from the home back to other settings — such as a skilled nursing facility or care community.
#3: The growing use of RPM in skilled nursing
The crossover between skilled nursing/long-term care and home care will accelerate in 2023, as many organizations that operate in one silo also offering some level of service in the other. Just as it does with home care, RPM helps facilitate the greater ability to treat patients in whatever context required by the situation (or preference), with no adverse effects on treatment or outcomes.
For skilled nursing facilities specifically, telehealth waivers issued during the Covid-19 PHE are, as of yet, still in place. And even when they expire, a new standard that includes them has already been set, as many observers have noted. As a care component of CMS care management programs like RPM and Chronic Care Management (CCM), remote patient monitoring is now a required asset for these facilities.
“Telemedicine visits in a nursing home need to have additional equipment available to monitor different parts of the body – meaning remote patient monitoring will need to become more normalized in facilities and at the core of a SNF telehealth visit definition,” writes Amy Stulick for Skilled Nursing News. “If you don’t have at least those basics, you’re not doing a real visit with a patient in a nursing home.”
Wondering where to start with remote patient monitoring? See our guide to finding the right RPM solution for your organization
#4: More RPM specialization among career-minded clinical workers
As the utilization of RPM technology has grown in facilities across the country, so too have the skills and experience of many nurses and other clinical workers who use it every day. And many of these healthcare professionals have embraced RPM and other telehealth technology with open arms, seizing the opportunity to boost their career prospects with an important new career skill.
Some have even leveraged their expertise with RPM and other forms of virtual care to work from home themselves, taking on roles as virtual consultants for larger facilities. For instance, an online chronic care manager course offered by Marie Peppers and CareSimple guides nurses through ten essentials of virtual care, including CCM, RPM, wellness coaching and HEDIS data abstracting.
A licensed practical nurse based in South Carolina, Peppers works to give nurses a chance to learn telehealth-based care management skills to meet the growing demand for workers skilled in virtual delivery of chronic care management. Some nurses who have taken the course have even gone on to open their own consulting business as a remote CCM care provider.
Learn more about Marie Peppers’ CCM course for nurses
“If you’re a nurse with any interest in the intersection of healthcare and technology, your future is bright,” as Chaunie Brusie BSN, RN explains to other nursing professionals at Nurse.org. “Additionally, nursing with hands-on tech skills are very needed too.
As RPM is increasingly based by both home-based and facility-based workers, look for the technology to perpetuate even further. As more and more doctors, nurses, aides and other clinicians use RPM and come to appreciate the benefits if offers — and the results it helps to achieve — there will be ever more voices advocating for its use, in facilities, among other workers, and in patient consultations.
#5: Continuing market segmentation
Customer segmentation is also likely to increase in 2023, as many Americans seeking various types of healthcare solutions have more options from more providers than ever before. By focusing on specific populations with targeted care, organizations are working to not only better serve their patients and communities, but also seizing the opportunity to grow their revenue with additional service lines.
“The idea that ‘all patients’ should receive the same clinical model is being fundamentally questioned—and this is a very positive development,” writes Sachin H. Jain at Forbes. “Whether these offerings will be viable in the long-run is an open question, but certainly worth watching as every company is looking to align with broader trends in diversity, equity, and inclusion and simultaneously drive results.”
As a leading tool in the delivery of population-specific patient management methods like Chronic Care Management (CCM) and other care management models recognized by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CCM), look to RPM technology to serve a central role in this continued diversification of care.
Stay on top of remote patient monitoring trends with CareSimple
Looking for help understanding the details of RPM? Download the CareSimple Ultimate Guide to Remote Patient Monitoring for all the info you need, from devices and technology to implementation best practices and follow-up strategy.
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