A study released by the Health Affairs’ September Issue has found that the growth in remote patient monitoring during the Covid-19 pandemic was driven by a small percentage of primary care physicians who used random patient selection techniques. The study examined billing for RPM for patients who suffer from chronic illnesses diagnosis. The device has received praise for its potential to significantly enhance patient care for those with undermanaged chronic illnesses. According to the report, billing in this sector grew 400 percent, and a select group of primary care physicians were mostly responsible. Patients with more severe disease burdens or poorer illness management were not frequently targeted by doctors who used the digital health technology.
Congress authorized an emergency authorisation during the early stages of the COVID-19 epidemic to promote the use of RPM, which caused some physicians to use it far more often. The technique was mostly utilized before the pandemic for patients with poorly managed diseases, comorbidities, and those unable to routinely seek inpatient care. According to the report, some doctors started utilizing RPM in a “shotgun approach” as digital health guidelines expanded. The study consisted of claims made between January 2019 and March 2021 in order to track growth and targeting. The information was utilized to track claims volume, consistency, provider concentration, and patient usage rates for high-volume providers. According to the data, there were only slight variations in patient consumption across patients with low and high levels of disease complexity. Patients with one chronic illness had a 16.5 percent usage rate, but patients with five or more chronic conditions had a 24.1 percent use rate. RPM was utilized by patients with simple hypertension at a rate of 21.7 percent vs complex hypertension patients at a rate of 23.8 percent. The utilization rate was 22.1percent for individuals with “excellent diabetes management,” compared to 21.9 percent for those with “poor diabetes control.”
The analysis also revealed clustered RPM usage at the period of early growth and high provider concentration. If better chronic disease treatment results from increased RPM expenditure, Medicaid consumers may end up spending less overall. However, the researchers believe that more research is required to fully understand the effects of RPM programs. The study’s authors call for more research on clinical results, patient usage, expenditures, patient access to treatment, and patient convenience in order to determine the circumstances in which RPM is most useful, how to integrate it into other types of care, and how different healthcare specialists may use RPM in their provision of care.