Bootcamp Fall 2022: Building a successful RPM program

Medical Economics Journal, Medical Economics November 2022, Volume 99, Issue 11

It’s more important than ever for practices to find additional revenue streams because costs are increasing with inflation.

To watch the full video, click here.

INTRODUCTION

Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a form a virtual care that can mean great financial returns for medical practices and improved treatment adherence and outcomes for patients. Creating a successful program that provides both tangible and intangible benefits can be challenging for busy physicians and medical practices, but there are proven strategies that can help an RPM program achieve success, according to a session during a Medical Economics® Fall 2022 Physician Bootcamp session.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

This session will provide:

An in-depth review of how to build a successful RPM program.

A blueprint on successfully implementing RPM in a practice.

An explanation of the benefits of RPM for providers, clinical staff, administrative staff and patients.

MEET THE PANELISTS

Shari Kappell, CPCO, CPPM, CPC
RPM Implementation and Billing Manager
CoachCare

Two options for RPM


Although RPM services for patients were around before COVID-19, the pandemic really jump-started interest in providing physiological monitoring services for patients, according to Shari Kappell, RPM implementation and billing manager for CoachCare, an RPM and virtual health company that sponsored the Medical Economics® Fall 2022 Physician Bootcamp session on the topic.

There are two categories of RPM codes: those for reimbursement for technical components to cover the expense of purchasing and using the actual devices needed for RPM services and those for professional services, the physicians or other providers who will actually be monitoring patient data (see box for the codes and typical Medicare reimbursement rates).

It’s more important than ever for practices to find additional revenue streams because costs are increasing with inflation. “Everything from staff to goods and services is going up in price, and making sure that we maintain a successful business practice and being able to service our patients with the best technology available, we want to make sure we have that nice revenue stream coming in to offset any expenses,” Kappell said.

She noted that there are essentially two ways for a practice to set up RPM services: Handle it in-house with your staff or outsource services to a vendor, such as Coachcare.

In-house: Pick tech and commit

This option, Kappell said, is what most practices have been doing. She provided an outline of the steps required:

1. Pick the right technology.

2. Commit your team to the effort.

3. Make it a new standard operating procedure.

4. Provide staff training.

5. Create a patient onboarding program that includes:

a. Registration.

b. Device education.

c. Mobile app education.

d. Obtaining written consent.

6. Complete monthly monitoring (minimum 20 minutes/patient).

7. Complete one live interaction monthly (phone call, video chat, in-person appointment).

8. Manage alerts, with patient outreach as necessary.

Vendor-run program

A vendor-run program, which is what Kappell specializes in at Coachcare, allows a third-party to do the heavy lifting for the practice, essentially running all aspects of a program from patient onboarding to monitoring to billing. Providers working for the vendor will be responsible for monitoring and reporting issues to the practice for care and treatment. In exchange, the vendor typically receives a contracted portion of the revenue earned for RPM services.

“It’s really a hands-on approach with our internal team versus having the provider’s team handle this, which really then offloads that staffing burden,” Kappell said.

Staffing has been a major concern for physician practices in 2022. Kappell pointed to a Medical Group Management Association survey that found that 73% of medical practices ranked staffing as their largest challenge heading into 2022. “Staffing is always a concern,” she said. “People maybe have gone home, and they’ve decided they can stay home. They’re not returning to the workforce. And you can really help offset those burdens by having the right vendor.”

What kind of revenue growth can practices expect? It varies for each practice, but working with vendor can ensure a stable revenue. She noted one practice that has worked with CoachCare, Middlesex Gastroenterology Associates, that went from $1,000 in RPM revenue per month to about $14,000 each month.

And it will help improve the patient care you provide too.

“RPM will expand patient access,” Kappell said. “It’ll drive innovation. It will help both providers and patients to keep them accountable. It allows for adjustments in care plans in a timely manner. And it reduces the risks of patients going undiagnosed for months to a year at a time. So this is something that is here to stay.”

Takeaways & Solutions

RPM services can be handled in-house at medical practices but require training, tech acquisition and responsive staff to create a program that is sustainable.

RPM vendors can help practices with staffing challenges by providing additional services and revenue streams to the practice.

Virtual services such as RPM can help keep patients (and providers) accountable to the treatment plan and detect serious issues early.