Device makers urge CMS to reimburse for remote patient care

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Telehomecare and remote monitoring technologies can help to manage costly and debilitating chronic diseases, according to a new report from the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed). However, Medicare does not reimburse doctors for care provided remotely, representatives of medical-device manufacturers said.

AdvaMed is pushing legislation that would change reimbursement regulations.

A bill that will require the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to reimburse doctors for the remote monitoring of patients is pending in the Senate. Julie Cohen, AdvaMed’s vice president of government affairs, said the group is trying to get that bill, with some of its coverage scaled back to hold down added costs, included in the Medicare bill being drafted by the Senate Finance Committee.

To support its position, AdvaMed released a report, based on a review of studies on telehomecare and remote monitoring, on the benefits of remote monitoring of patients with diseases such as congestive heart failure, diabetes and lung failure.

Among the findings in the report:

  • A study of 281 congestive heart failure patients who received telehomecare found that they experienced a 60 percent reduction in hospital admissions, a 66 percent decline in emergency room visits and a 59 percent reduction in pharmacy usage. In contrast, the control group experienced increases in these specific areas.
  • When patients with severe respiratory illness requiring oxygen therapy were remotely monitored, hospital admissions decreased by 50 percent, acute clinical problems decreased 55 percent and hospital costs went down by 17 percent.
  • A study of 400 diabetic patients found that those monitored by in-home glucose meters and video conferencing showed much greater improvement in reducing average blood sugar levels than those who did not receive such monitoring.

The report does acknowledge that “providers will likely experience some increased costs because of their responsibility to monitor incoming data. Wherever possible, they will want that monitoring to be automated so that normal monitoring results can be recorded and filed for future reference, but out-of-target-range data will be brought to their attention.”

The report concludes, “the evidence suggests that telehealth, telehomecare, and remote monitoring may be one of the only economically viable ways to manage an aging population, the prevalence of chronic disease and the growing constraints on health care spending.”