The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a comprehensive strategy to enhance hospital capacity amid the recent COVID-19 surge.

Earlier this year, CMS released emergency declaration waivers and clarifications related to telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM). These aimed to enable quick deployment of virtual care strategies and solutions to help patients receive care from home. Now, building on these waivers, the new actions from CMS aim to further extend health care services provided outside a hospital setting – allowing in-hospital capacity to focus on critical COVID-19 care.  

Hospitals are facing an enormous capacity problem as the demand for patient beds is higher than the number of beds available. Recent data found that more than a third of Americans now live in areas where hospitals are critically short of hospital beds. These flexibilities include additional allowances that guarantee safe care for eligible patients in their homes and updated staffing flexibility designed to allow ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) to provide greater inpatient care when needed. 

These updates and allowances are part of CMS’s innovative “Acute Hospital Care At Home” program. In a statement, the organization said, “CMS believes that treatment for more than 60 different acute conditions, such as asthma, congestive heart failure, pneumonia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) care, can be treated appropriately and safely in-home settings with proper monitoring and treatment protocols.”

The Vital Role of Virtual Care During COVID-19

Virtual care is critical to care delivery now more than ever before. There is a rising number of COVID-19 cases. In many cases, patients with chronic conditions and comorbidities are without the ability to seek routine in-hospital care. The system is facing a growing physician shortage from early retirement and significant provider burnout. To combat the onslaught of challenges, health system administrators, especially care management and technology leaders, are seeking technology-driven ways to re-engage and reach patients and mitigate burnout.   

Telehealth visits have been a core way that providers have re-engaged with patients, allowing for some form of normalcy to replace in-person visits. However, these visits are often without the data collected during standard in-person intake – blood pressure, heart rate, weight, blood sugar (A1C), and so on. RPM allows those data to be re-incorporated into standard and extended care practices. 

RPM allows providers to use a wide range of devices such as home use medical devices like blood pressure cuffs, weight scales, or glucometers to monitor their patients outside the clinical care setting. It also enables the incorporation of self-reported data, wearables data for sleep and activity insights, and app data for details on nutrition, medication adherence, and mental health. 

These data supplement insights collected during in-person visits to help the clinician make more informed decisions and treatment or care adjustments. These data also allow providers to create alerts that passively monitor their population. If Susan’s blood glucose is out of range for three days, content, or intervention from a care manager or physician can be triggered. Right now, in the time of COVID, early interventions are saving lives in entirely different ways – by preventing people, especially those with pre-existing conditions, from COVID-19 exposure.

These data can inform when a clinical encounter via audio or video is needed to help the patient make a treatment or lifestyle adjustment. With a full spectrum of data, it’s easier to note which is needed: is Susan increasing her sugar consumption or missing medications? 

Given that virtual visits are currently reimbursable at the same rates as in-person visits during the public health emergency (PHE), these RPM + telehealth programs help create new financial models to sustain provider systems. So, not only are these saving patient’s lives, they are also keeping hospitals and health systems afloat by supplementing revenue.

Remote Patient Monitoring with Validic Impact

Validic Impact, an RPM solution that can be integrated into the EHR or deployed as a standalone tool, provides access to personal health data from nearly 500 in-home medical devices, wearables, and health apps. Validic Impact has an advanced, embedded rules engine that alerts providers based on critical data, trends, or missing data. 

Within a standalone system or within the EHR, Validic Impact provides not only the alerting, but also the visualization and support tools required to manage high volumes of data in a way that helps providers quickly understand trends, concerns, and patient history. Impact was designed not to overwhelm the provider with data but to organize the data in a way that allows for automated action from the system and easily-digestible information for the clinician.

The Validic Impact platform was built to help providers better manage large cohorts of patients and reduce process inefficiencies. By passively collecting and elevating critical patient data while automating previously manual, time-intensive tasks, the platform empowers care teams to prioritize patients better and spend their time with those most at-risk for adverse health events.

Built for scale and customization, Impact is componentized to enable the management of any condition – diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and so on – from a single deployment. 

The information provided in this blog does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.

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