‘This is a very small step’
WASHINGTON – The home health care industry is cautiously optimistic about Medicare’s proposals to reimburse home health agencies for remote patient monitoring and pay physicians for virtual visits.
In the 2019 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and Quality Payment Program unveiled last week, CMS proposes allowing the cost of remote patient monitoring to be reported by home health agencies as an allowable cost on the Medicare cost report form. It also proposes paying physicians for virtual check-ins with patients and evaluations of patient-submitted images.
Industry experts want to make clear that, while the proposed changes are a step in the right direction, there is still a long way to go.
“This is a very small step toward recognizing the value of remote patient monitoring, as future reimbursement policy considerations will now have the benefit of data regarding cost,” said William Dombi, president of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice.
While the proposal would position remote patient monitoring as an allowable charge, home health agencies still won’t be reimbursed for them, said Joy Cameron, vice president of policy and innovation at ElevatingHOME and the Visiting Nurse Associations of America.
Still, “as an ‘allowable’ cost under Medicare, agencies will be able to denote those services and costs in their annual reports and it will be a cost of care, rather than additional administrative costs or seen as a surplus when margins are calculated,” she said.
Cameron believes RPM is an increasingly important tool home health agencies can use to collect data on patients.
“This data can be used to monitor issues and concerns, and to help provide data to care planning modifications and needs,” she said.