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Remote Patient Monitoring Questions Answered
If you’re on a quest to expand your non-prescription revenue, remote patient monitoring should be on your short list of pharmacy-based services.
If you’re on a quest to expand your non-prescription revenue, remote patient monitoring should be on your short list of pharmacy-based services that can help you make some extra money. With defined requirements for pharmacies to receive reimbursement, a relatively low barrier to entry and very little in the way of competition, remote patient monitoring can offer an easy win for independent community pharmacies of any size.
So why isn’t everyone doing it? And why isn’t everyone talking about it? Remote Patient Monitoring pioneers Amina Abubakar and Bob Lomenick helped us understand what it takes to run a successful Remote Patient Monitoring program.
You can watch our full interview with Amina and Bob here or keep reading for some of the conversation highlights.
What is Remote Patient Monitoring?
Remote patient monitoring, also known as remote physiological monitoring, is where you can give a patient a device that monitors specific physical metrics which are then provided in real time to healthcare providers.
The goal? To help catch changes in a patient’s status early and prevent unnecessary hospitalizations, care costs and more. Since most people see their primary care physician once or twice a year, they aren’t getting regular touch points. For a patient that is diabetic for example, a lot can happen in 6 months. When engaged in remote patient monitoring, real time data about a patient's blood sugar, blood pressure, weight, etc. is communicated to the pharmacy team and seen on a daily basis. If the numbers are going in the wrong direction, a proactive approach can be taken by the patients' healthcare team.
How do you get started with Remote Patient Monitoring?
There are two ways to take on remote patient monitoring, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. The most traditional way is to get involved with a physician or clinic and collaborate to onboard qualifying patients to your Remote Patient Monitoring program. This means easy referrals from the provider and the ability for the provider to bill Medicare and provide an agreed upon percentage back to you. Now the ability to receive funds from Medicare for the service is awesome, and not something a pharmacy can do independently. But it does mean you have to take the step to get clinics on board and negotiate your rate for running the remote patient monitoring service.
The other way to think about remote patient monitoring is from a cash-based model perspective. You likely have patients that can benefit from remote patient monitoring that are not on Medicare. The patients that come in for blood pressure medications and checks, or diabetic testing supplies. Instead of giving them a logbook to track their blood pressure, set them up with a device to digitally track that information. Take patient care to the next level by not just filling a prescription but seeing first-hand the patient's result. While a pharmacy is unable to bill Medicare for remote patient monitoring, you can set up your own menu of remote patient monitoring services for non-Medicare patients.
What does the workload for Remote Patient Monitoring look like?
Software programs help you efficiently review the data you’re getting from devices each day and identify outliers that might need closer attention. For advice on software programs (and training on remote patient monitoring) we recommend the resources provided by The Avant Institute.
While data retrieved for Medicare patients is available to the provider, pharmacies can still take an active role in intervention when something doesn’t look quite right. For example, if you’re actively monitoring a patient’s blood pressure and something looks out of the ordinary, you can do some outreach before contacting the provider. Did the patient miss medication? Did they go to a party and eat or drink something that’s causing an anomaly? While this will add to your daily workload a bit, it creates more value in your clinical relationships and helps your patients get back on track faster.
Is there money to be made with Remote Patient Monitoring?
If you’re collaborating with a provider and billing Medicare, there are specific guidelines and billing codes for remote patient monitoring services which include the device, infrastructure, setup and of course monitoring. Your takeaway will depend on the cash price you set up or on your agreement with the physician for Medicare billing.
While there are many variables that will impact what you make, there’s certainly plenty of opportunity to substantially increase revenue through remote patient monitoring.
For more on the ins and outs of remote patient monitoring, check out our full panel discussion with Amina Abubakar and Bob Lomenick.