‘This is an important step toward full reimbursement’
WASHINGTON – The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services finalized a rule last week that will allow home health agencies to report the cost of remote patient monitoring for reimbursement under Medicare, an announcement that was met with optimism by the industry.
“This is a good start by CMS,” said Rob Tennant, health IT policy director for the Medical Group Management Association, a nonprofit association for professionals who lead medical practices. “We’ve been advocating for this technology for many, many years.”
The final changes to the Home Health Prospective Payment System allows home health care providers to include the costs of remote monitoring technology into the costs of Medicare cost report forms. Seema Verma, CMS administrator, said in a statement that this will help foster the adoption of emerging technologies by home health agencies and result in more effective care planning.
The new rule, to be implemented in 2020, is a step in the right direction for home health care, said Chris McCann, CEO of Snap40, providers of a wearable device that captures vital signs and other health information.
“With the finalized rule CMS is continuing to focus on incentivizing home health agencies to innovate,” he said. “In particular, they have now defined remote patient monitoring in regulation and it will now be included on cost reports. This is an important step toward full reimbursement for remote patient monitoring and it demonstrates its clinical and economic importance.”
Last year, CMS made changes to allow physicians to bill for services related to remote patient monitoring, but home health agencies could not bill for those services. The new rule closes that gap.
“The ability for providers to get paid for remote patient monitoring allows for more efficiencies, reduces some of the barriers and will hopefully advance innovations,” said Asif Shah Mohammed, a consultant with health care consulting firm ECG Management Consultants. “With remote patient monitoring, patients can share more real-time information so clinicians can tailor patient care.”
The CMS final rule also establishes Medicare payment for technology-based communication services like brief virtual check-ins between patients and physicians, and separate payment for evaluation of remote pre-recorded images and/or video.