CMS finalizes rule for remote patient monitoring reimbursement under Medicare

CMS Administrator Seema Verma said that the remote monitoring change and others would promote care innovation and reduce provider burden.
By Dave Muoio
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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has locked in a rule that will allow home health agencies to report the cost of remote patient monitoring for reimbursement under Medicare. According to the announcement, released yesterday, this rule will be implemented in 2020.

Alongside this change also came others regarding payment and safety standards for qualified home infusion therapy suppliers; a reduction in administrative responsibilities for certifying physicians; and the planned implementation of a new case-mix system focused on patient need over care volume.

“Today’s rule overhauls how Medicare pays for home health, refocusing on the needs of patients, promoting innovation, and reducing burden for physicians and home health providers,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in the announcement.

Remote monitoring enables the collection of patients’ health data, such as vital signs, weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, blood oxygen levels, heart rate and electrocardiogram readings.

What’s the impact

In a fact sheet accompanying the announcement, CMS acknowledged data indicating the benefits of remote patient monitoring adoption. By setting a definition for the technology and including it as an allowable cost on HHA cost reports, more home health agencies will be incentivized to offer the services to patients, the agency hopes.

“This is expected to help foster the adoption of emerging technologies by home health agencies and result in more effective care planning, as data are shared among patients, their caregivers and their providers,” the agency wrote in its announcement. “The use of such technology can allow for greater patient independence and empowerment.”

What’s the trend

Verma and CMS have been hot on the idea of remote monitoring technologies for some time, and stated as much earlier this year when the proposed payment rules were first released. This tech-driven approach to care was also added to CMS’ Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) as a new reimbursable Improvement Activity late last year — and in fact, MobiHealthNews predicted that remote monitoring reimbursement would be major focus throughout 2018 back in January.

On the record

“This home health final rule focuses on patient needs and not on the volume of care,” Verma said. “This rule also innovates and modernizes home health care by allowing remote patient monitoring. We are also proud to offer new home infusion therapy services. Using new technology and reducing unnecessary reporting measures for certifying physicians will result in an annual cost savings and provide home health agencies (HHAs) and doctors what they need to give patients a personalized treatment plan that will result in better health outcomes.”