The treatment of chronic diseases accounts for nearly 75% of aggregate healthcare spending in the US. In terms of public health insurance, the proportionate cost is even higher: 96 cents per dollar for Medicare and 83 cents per dollar for Medicaid.
As a result, many healthcare organizations and providers are turning toward remote care programs such as chronic care management (CCM) and remote patient monitoring (RPM) to help more effectively manage care for patients with chronic conditions. These programs enable providers to do more with less by delivering remote capabilities, deeper insights, and enhanced care coordination. Likewise, both CCM and RPM have demonstrated their effectiveness in improving patient outcomes and reducing care costs.
For example, one study found that patients with hypertension experienced a mean systolic blood pressure reduction of 16.0 mmHg and a diastolic blood pressure reduction of 8.9 mmHg after using RPM. In addition, patients with diabetes had an average random glucose reduction of 9.3 mg/dl and patients with obesity saw an average weight loss of 12.1 lbs. after enrolling in the RPM program.
Additionally, results from a study released by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) found that CCM programs also greatly benefited patients with chronic conditions by reducing hospitalizations and ED visits and increasing preventative care encounters for enrolled patients.
With a large body of evidence demonstrating the benefits for patients, coupled with the convenience of remote care, it is understandable why RPM and CCM programs have increased in popularity among providers and healthcare organizations.
How RPM and CCM Can Work Together to Benefit Patients With Chronic Conditions
RPM has been making steady inroads for years and got a boost during the Covid-19 pandemic as providers looked for ways to remotely treat patients with chronic conditions. While the pandemic restrictions have eased, other factors continue to drive the adoption of RPM, including staffing shortages, growing caseloads, reimbursement, and the rise of increasingly sophisticated connected devices that can collect and report healthcare data.
Similarly, chronic care management, or CCM, was introduced nearly a decade ago as a preventative care program for individuals with multiple chronic conditions to help proactively manage their health. With CCM, patients receive coordinated care services, including a comprehensive care plan with ongoing patient support and education.
CCM provides information and support to patients to help ensure their health and increase engagement, while RPM delivers the physiologic data physicians need to monitor changes in health that may identify escalating conditions requiring intervention. Although these services have different functions, they complement each other well and can be combined to provide patients with more comprehensive, proactive care.
While CCM is a beneficial choice for patients with two or more chronic conditions who would gain from personalized support, RPM is an ideal program for patients with one or more chronic conditions on a treatment regimen to better manage their health daily in-between office visits.
RPM and CCM together can make a remote care program more complete. In addition to providing better care for patients, RPM and CCM can allow practices to maximize reimbursement without additional staffing or administrative burden. Because RPM and CCM are separate, billable Medicare programs, providers can bill for both RPM and CCM together. CMS recognizes that these services complement one another, although individual time requirements for each service must be met separately.
Removing Barriers to Adoption
Given the advantages, what’s keeping more providers from using RPM and CCM to benefit patients with chronic conditions?
Traditionally, healthcare has been delivered within the four walls of an office, which may cause some clinicians to be uncomfortable with providing care at a distance. The truth is that RPM and CCM do not replace in-person care. They help support providers in making more-informed clinical decisions and earlier interventions by providing a 360-degree view of a patient’s overall health and increasing patient engagement.
Another barrier to remote care adoption is that most practices are already overburdened with day-to-day operations. Many do not think they have the staff and resources to implement RPM and CCM effectively. They are unaware that most of the work can be contracted to a firm with expertise in remote care technology.
Some firms have a team of clinicians who will identify and enroll qualifying patients for the program, handle all monitoring and engagement in-between visits, and save documentation into your existing EHR, all under the provider’s supervision. The medical staff is only alerted to the insights that are most important, enabling them to focus on what matters most—the patients.
Ultimately, remote care programs such as RPM and CCM are a win-win for the practice and the patient. The patient benefits from more comprehensive care, and the practice benefits from less administrative work, increased reimbursement, and easy integration with their existing EHR and workflows without the extra burden or need to hire additional staff.