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What does the increase in RPM mean for primary care?

Medical Economics JournalMedical Economics March 2024
Volume 101
Issue 3

Primary care doctors are protective of their patient panels and skeptical about quick-fix promises of better outcomes and more revenues.

RPM in primary care: ©DC Studio - stock.adobe.com

RPM in primary care: ©DC Studio - stock.adobe.com

CMS spending for RPM services jumped from $5.5 million in 2019 to $101 million in 2021, according to a study that suggested the main users were primary care physicians managing hypertension and diabetes.

But some primary care physicians are hesitant to use RM for a number of reasons. Aspects of it are still new. Primary care doctors are protective of their patient panels and skeptical about quick-fix promises of better outcomes and more revenues.

They’re also busy.

“Typically, their heads kind of explode and they just say, we don’t want to do it,” said Kyle Williams, CEO of MD Revolution, a company specializing in remote patient monitoring and chronic care management. “That’s been the pushback in the past — this isn’t a business model for me, I’m overworked and understaffed the way it is, how can I possibly run a program?”

There are legitimate concerns about logistics of remote monitoring. Rob Havasy, senior director of informatics strategy for HIMSS, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, said physicians considering RM have many questions: How do I get the devices into the hands of the patients? Who pays for the ongoing connectivity if they don’t have broadband at home? What do I do if something breaks? How long does this go on? How do I get reimbursed for this? Will I get sued? How does this work in my practice?

Many physicians first consider whether RM is medically valuable and whether they have staff to integrate it, Havasy said. Rather, patients and payers are external factors they have no control over, but that definitely affect a remote monitoring program.

“It’s the assessment of their payment environment and their technology environment that makes this either viable or not,” Havasy said.

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