COVID-19 has highlighted the need for virtual care strategies and has set the tone for future care as it helps to solve many of the current and future challenges health systems face with capacity, value-based initiatives, and cashflow.

This week, Validic CEO Drew Schiller, Cleveland Clinic Chief Clinical Officer Peter Rassmussen, and CMS Regulations Expert Robert Jarrin came together during an eHI webinar to discuss how health systems are currently responding to COVID-19 with remote patient monitoring (RPM) and how current and coming policy and reimbursement changes will impact RPM and telehealth delivery. 

As COVID-19 quickly spread across the US, provider organizations have had to quickly deploy virtual care services such as telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM) to help keep patients safe and out of the hospital who do not need immediate attention and to remotely monitor patients with acute and chronic conditions. 

“We took a proactive action towards COVID-19 at the Cleveland Clinic,” said Rasmussen. “Digital health energized the organization to make very rapid conversions to virtual care. Almost overnight we converted a 98 percent office space and outpatient practice to a 100 percent virtual practice. It is impossible to be seen at the Cleveland Clinic now on an outpatient basis and everything is done via virtual visits or telephone calls.”

Remote Patient Monitoring solutions are maximizing care delivery value by delivering quality care beyond just reducing the number of patients in healthcare systems. For patients with a chronic condition, remote patient monitoring can be used to monitor patient trends, and treatment adherence and telehealth can replace in-person visits, which can also reduce their risk of COVID-19 exposure. These services together can help providers better manage patients as a whole, address the ongoing capacity issues and personnel shortage, and can especially help as they work to keep patients out of the hospital and to stop potential exposure to COVID-19.

“It is amazing how a situation like COVID forces regulators to quickly decide which regulations are helpful and which regulations are standing in the way of major opportunities to improve patient care and drive virtual care. I’m excited to see what will hopefully end up moving the industry forward in a technology adoption space,” said Schiller. “Patients still need to be seen and still need to have their numbers reviewed, you can’t hold your logbook up to the video camera. We shouldn’t have to, given there is reimbursement available from CMS and the technology is available.”

Through an emergency declaration that expanded Medicare coverage of telehealth services, virtual visits, and e-visits and fewer restrictions on remote patient monitoring services, it is easier for hospitals and health systems to implement and use virtual care services and consumers are becoming accustomed to the ease, convenience, and benefits remote offerings deliver. 

“CMS was encouraging patients to stay at home because of limited resources and to limit exposure to COVID-19. Now more than ever we have to embrace technology,” said Jarrin. “We have the backing of the nation’s largest public insurer to adopt these virtual care technologies, and I don’t think we go back.”

To learn more, watch the video-on-demand here.

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