Study Finds Medicare RPM Use Increased During Pandemic

A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine has found that remote patient monitoring has significantly increased among Medicare recipients during the COVID-19 pandemic. From January 1, 2018, through September 30, 2021, conventional Medicare claims were evaluated for the presence of remote patient monitoring CPT codes. This featured brand-new codes for recording general physiological data that were introduced in 2019. The application of generic RPM during the epidemic was then contrasted with continuous glucose monitoring, a more specialized example with distinct CPT codes. 

The researchers discovered that general RPM grew by 555 percent, from 91 claims per 100,000 members in February 2020 to 594 claims per 100,000 members in September 2021. Only 42 percent more continuous glucose monitors were used throughout the same period. Additionally, the researchers also investigated which clinicians were using these RPM services and how they were used. Primary care providers delivered approximately 63 percent of general RPM throughout the crisis. Cardiologists gave approximately 20 percent of the services, and pulmonologists provided  roughly 4 percent of the services. The researchers discovered that hypertension was the most typical primary diagnosis for RPM treatment, accounting for roughly 62.5 percent of RPM treatment. Other claims included diabetes, issues with sleep, hyperlipidemia, and high cholesterol. Each accounting for less than 10 percent of RPM services. The researchers found that primary diagnoses differed amongst specialities; for pulmonologists, sleep and respiratory illnesses accounted for approximately 76 percent of general RPM. Ultimately, primary care physicians’ hypertension supervision accounted for 43 percent of all RPM services provided throughout the pandemic.

The researchers of the study believe that costs will likely rise if the increase in RPM use continues. They contend that healthcare providers must decide whether RPM is a wise investment in which the advantages exceed the disadvantages posed. The researchers believe that the study offers crucial information concerning the development and potential future of RPM for Medicare beneficiaries. However, they note that more research is needed to determine when RPM will be most useful.