Digital health advocates believe remote monitoring—the use of digital technologies to collect and relay patient data to health care professionals—has the potential to transform disease management, health outcomes, and patient care, especially for individuals with multiple chronic conditions who lack convenient access to providers. Medicare, most state Medicaid agencies, and many private health insurance plans cover remote monitoring services.
For the purposes of this report, we define remote monitoring as an umbrella term for remote physiologic monitoring (RPM) and remote therapeutic monitoring (RTM). RPM refers to the monitoring of physiologic data—such as weight, blood glucose, or blood pressure—while RTM refers to the monitoring of patients’ self-reported non-physiologic data, such as pain levels or medication adherence. Currently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) limits RTM reimbursement to cases involving the respiratory system, musculoskeletal system, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Although the percentage of patients using RPM remains relatively low (594 monthly claims per 100,000 Medicare enrollees in 2021), the use of RPM increased among Medicare beneficiaries more than sixfold from 2018-2021. In part, this increase was due to CMS’ expanded coverage rules during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Thirty-four state Medicaid programs covered RPM services as of March 2023; however, many Medicaid programs restrict RPM use in some way. RTM uptake has also steadily increased since its introduction in 2022, yet billing and documentation requirements can hinder its widespread adoption.
The evidence base on remote monitoring, particularly for RPM tools, is growing. Yet some policy experts cite a lack of robust evidence on the optimal use of remote monitoring, including its duration and target patient groups. In the absence of such evidence, these experts question whether we are effectively “rightsizing” the use of these services. Underuse could limit access to beneficial care, while overuse could unnecessarily increase spending in federal health care programs. Additionally, providers cite the need for tools—such as generative artificial intelligence (AI)—to manage streams of data, otherwise the volume of patient-generated information can become overwhelming and unmanageable.
Over the past year, the Bipartisan Policy Center undertook an extensive effort to develop evidence-based, federal policy recommendations for the appropriate use and coverage of remote monitoring services. BPC assessed patients’ access to and use of remote monitoring technologies and their impact on health outcomes and cost. We conducted a series of interviews and hosted a private roundtable with health policy experts, federal officials, technology leaders, medical providers, payers, consumers, and academics to gain insight into the opportunities and challenges regarding remote monitoring.
This report looks broadly at ways to improve the use of remote monitoring services, ensure equitable access to these services across populations, and enhance data security and privacy standards. Now is the time for payers and providers to refine their approach and maximize appropriate adoption for patients who stand to benefit from remote monitoring.
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