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How Remote Patient Monitoring Can Limit Exposure for Populations at High-Risk for COVID-19, Reduce Spending, and Relieve the Burden on the Healthcare System

Natalie Stein
April 14, 2020
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As the country moves towards a value-based healthcare approach, telehealth is increasingly valuable and in high demand. Remote patient monitoring (RPM) and other technology used in chronic care management (CCM) have already proven themselves in improving patient outcomes and driving cost savings. The addition of the COVID-19 pandemic to the equation makes the benefits even clearer as high-risk patients can get medical care without risking coming into contact with infected individuals at in-person facilities.

Digital solutions such as Lark are on the front lines of value-based care and improved patient outcomes. Lark can help patients manage conditions such as diabetes and hypertension to lower risks for complications and limit their exposure to what could be a deadly virus. At the same time, Lark can help reduce the burden on the healthcare system and increase provider profitably through means such as improving patient health and facilitating remote patient monitoring (RPM), which is reimbursable through Medicare.

What Is Value-Based Care?

Value-based care is healthcare that pays providers, such as hospitals and doctors, based on outcomes rather than services provided. This kind of system allows providers to focus on improving patient health rather than providing as many services as possible to increase revenues. 

Benefits of value-based care can include the following.

  • Improved patient health and satisfaction.
  • Lower healthcare costs 
  • Reduced burden on the healthcare system if more patients have better health.

Strategies of value-based care may include increasing coordination between providers and increasing patients’ participation in their own care and decisions. Other elements can include lifestyle coaching for increased ability of patients to self-manage health conditions, increased access to providers, and more reliance on electronic health records and analysis of outcomes and costs. 

Lark fits right into value-based care because it emphasizes prevention, improved patient health, and cost savings. Programs include evidence-based lifestyle coaching to help patients establish health habits to prevent or manage chronic conditions. Lark also helps with coordination of care, as it assists with case escalation if patients have out-of-range values for blood glucose or blood pressure.

Remote Patient Monitoring and Value-Based Care

Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is another healthcare strategy that can contribute to the success of value-based care. It involves the remote collection of patient data, such as via bluetooth-enabled glucose meters or blood pressure monitors that are connected to an app, such as Lark, which passes the information to doctors and other healthcare professionals. They can then analyze this patient-generated data and act on it, such as by altering prescriptions or providing feedback to patients via phone or email.

Analysis of so much data was not always possible. It enables doctors to know how their patients are doing on a daily or hourly basis, rather than depending on occasional office visits or phone calls with nurses to assess patient progress. It is intuitive that basing decisions on an increased amount of data, as well as being alerted more quickly – possibly within minutes – if patients’ values are out of range, is better for patient health. 

Remote Patient Monitoring to Fight COVID-19

These benefits of improved chronic care management (CCM) are already significant, but the COVID-19 pandemic has led to recognition of additional benefits of RPM. First, RPM can help relieve the overburdened hospitals and other resources. Second, RPM can help protect high-risk patients, such as those with diabetes or hypertension, from getting exposed to the virus. Here is how.

Relieving the Healthcare System

First, projections are for the healthcare system to be overwhelmed as people get infected with coronavirus. Doctors, healthcare workers, hospital beds, and equipment are all in short supply. Lark’s goal is to help patients with chronic conditions maintain health so they can stay out of hospitals as much as possible. In addition, with RPM and a mandate to cover telemedicine, patients can get needed care through remote means such as video chats, which do not take up space or supplies.

Protecting Vulnerable Populations

Secondly, individuals with certain underlying conditions appear to be at higher risk for getting infected with COVID-19 and for developing more serious cases of it. Because it involves the remote and instant sending of patient data to doctors, and the interpretation of and feedback for that data remotely, patients with conditions such as diabetes and hypertension can get primary care services without setting foot in clinics which are likely to have sick patients in them. This can protect these high-risk patients from getting COVID-19, and help the entire population by reducing the spread of the virus.

Increased Revenue Streams with Remote Patient Monitoring

With improved health outcomes, digital solutions such as Lark can lead to cost savings. For example, patients with diabetes who are closer to their glycemic targets, and patients with hypertension who are closer to their blood pressure goals, are less likely to have complications and expensive hospitalizations and visits to the emergency room. Similarly, obese patients who lose weight tend to have lower healthcare costs.

These are not the only economic benefits for providers. Profits can increase further for healthcare providers due to reimbursements for RPM. With CPT code 99091, doctors and qualified professionals can get reimbursed for the time spent gathering and analyzing remote patient data in blocks of at least 30 minutes, billed once per cycle.

Lark can contribute to this revenue stream as it is perfectly suited to facilitate RPM. It offers seamless integration into physician workflows. Lark is infinitely scalable to be able to serve as many patients as needed without sacrificing quality or requiring delays in analysis or care.

Though it superficially focuses on chronic condition prevention and management, Lark is far more. It not only helps fight conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, which are among the most costly and deadly conditions of our time, but is also a key player in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, as it helps protect high-risk populations, reduces the burden on the healthcare system, and lowers healthcare costs.

Author
Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Lark Health