July 2, 2021 – There’s been a lot of buzz lately about telehealth and with it, remote patient monitoring (RPM), so HomeCare talked with Jorge Rodriguez of WITHmyDOC to find out more about the benefits of RPM. Based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, WITHmyDOC is a digital health company that uses a web-based intelligence platform to provide the real-time data needed to control symptom and disease progression. Rodriguez shares how RPM can help home health agencies provide better care.
HOMECARE: How can home health agencies use RPM to monitor patients between visits and better understand the patient’s condition on a daily basis?
JORGE RODRIGUEZ: There is a general consensus among healthcare providers of the benefits of real-time updates on a patient’s condition and timely feedback on their current status, thereby increasing patient engagement with providers. I don’t think the question is about how home health agencies can use the technology, but rather how they incorporate all the data to manage their patients’ care and achieve the care plan goals. Monitoring a patient between visits could alert the provider of a significant change in a patient’s health. For example, a congestive heart failure patient could experience weight gain over the course of a few days if their medications have been adjusted. The ability to see the change in real-time allows for proactive intervention before the problem exacerbates and alerting the provider.
HOMECARE: How does RPM improve the care planning process?
RODRIGUEZ: RPM services must be included in the care plan with an explanation for how the technology will help to achieve the therapy plan’s goals. RPM is an additional tool and truly a valuable resource for providers in the continuum of care because they have access to daily vitals, much like you would in a hospital setting, and can adjust the care plan based on the patient’s progress. Our system also incorporates the ability to conduct a telehealth visit (with current vitals) if a provider needs to see the patient right away. For home health agencies, RPM is not only effective in the care plan of an individual patient but can be useful in determining the scheduling priority of a nurse’s visits on a daily basis.
HOMECARE: How is reimbursement handled for home health agencies, and how do they bill for RPM costs of necessary equipment, set-up and related services?
RODRIGUEZ: In 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) amended regulations to include the costs of RPM as an allowable administrative cost (operating expense) if RPM is used by the home health agency to augment the care planning process. By allowing the costs associated with RPM reported on the cost report, they can better determine the cost and frequency of use by home health agencies and whether or not it improves patient outcomes.
It’s a challenge right now for these agencies despite the benefits of RPM. COVID-19 was instrumental in accelerating the learning curve and comfort of telehealth and provided CMS the utilization data necessary to make the decision to continue allowing telehealth services after the public health emergency expires. RPM is quickly being implemented across the country and will provide actual clinical data to impact their decision-making and allow for greater use, including in home health agencies. We can only hope that CMS sees the value in the service and the results in the outcomes in the very near future.
HOMECARE: How does WITHmyDOC work with home health agencies? What training do caregivers need to get started?
RODRIGUEZ: We’ve had many discussions with different types of home care providers, and the one common challenge is the current landscape for reimbursement of RPM services for home health. However, we are working with large medical providers that are fully capitated, use RPM to augment home health care, and see the benefit of RPM in reducing ER visits, readmissions and lowering the overall cost of care. WITHmyDOC has created a software platform and patient application that are very easy to use with efficiency at its core. Understanding that technological capabilities are as diverse as the customers we serve and listening to our customers feedback has allowed us to fine tune our software for maximum efficiency of use. We provide training to caregivers, so they are comfortable utilizing the system from day one. Our clinical coordinators follow up with caregivers during the initial onboarding process and share best practices experienced in the field to minimize the learning curve. Caregiver and patient engagement are very important to the overall success of the program, and we consider ourselves to be an extension of the healthcare providers’ staff.
HOMECARE: Any predictions for the future of RPM?
RODRIGUEZ: RPM has an important role in healthcare and its future is an open canvas waiting to be painted. COVID-19 played a role in expanding the potential opportunities and speeding the process to mainstream acceptance. The initial reimbursement challenges that kept traditional telehealth services from surpassing a 1% market share are in the past. The accumulation and analysis of clinically relevant physiologic data and patient outcomes will validate the importance of RPM in the decision-making hierarchy of patient healthcare. I’m just happy to be one of the painters adding WITHmyDOC’s colors to this beautiful landscape.