Before 2020, telemedicine and remote health monitoring solutions were growing at a steady, moderate...
Before 2020, telemedicine and remote health monitoring solutions were growing at a steady, moderate pace. According to McKinsey & Company, in April 2020, the percent of office and outpatient visits occurring via telehealth spiked to 32 percent. Since then, utilization levels have stabilized between 13 and 17 percent. This is an increase of more than 38 times pre-COVID levels.
Why is Remote Health Monitoring Growing?
Several factors are fueling this increase. First, the pandemic contributed to mass shortages of vacant hospital beds, and individuals with chronic illnesses were encouraged to avoid visiting hospitals to reduce their risk of contracting the virus. As a result, hospitals turned to remote patient monitoring systems to track patients and their vital statistics.
The growing aging adult population is another factor contributing to growth. According to the World Health Organization, adults aged 65 years and older will rise from 9% in 2019 to 16% by 2050. As this population increases, the number of patients managing chronic diseases also increases – fueling the need for remote health monitoring.
A third and significant contributing factor is Medicare and Medicaid's inclusion of CPT billing codes that support reimbursement for remote patient monitoring. The introduction of these billing codes paves the way for some home care agencies, assisted living facilities, and skilled nursing facilities to begin capitalizing on new revenue streams while simultaneously alleviating staffing shortage burdens.
The CPT codes that support remote patient monitoring allow facilities to bill Medicare or Medicaid (in some states) for reported monthly data. Remotely collected weight, body temperature, blood pressure, glucose monitoring, respiration, activity, ECG, and fall detection data are billable monthly. Capturing this data without additional staff allows facilities to create a new revenue stream without bringing on a new team.
Finally, the growth of the remote health monitoring segment has gained the attention of investors. According to Rock Health's 2021 digital health funding report, total venture capital investment in the digital health space for the first half of 2021 reached $14.7 billion – which is more than the total investment in the segment in 2020 ($14.6 billion). If this rate continues, the annualized investment will increase to $25 to $30 billion in 2021.
Significant investments in remote health monitoring have led to new and improved remote monitoring devices that are reliable, accurate, discreet, and widely available.
What Does the Growth of Remote Monitoring Mean for Healthcare Groups?
For starters, healthcare groups can expect to see a significant increase in virtual healthcare and business models. Healthcare delivery has remained essentially unchanged over the previous 50 years. The proliferation of telehealth and the remote devices to support this shift mean that healthcare providers can expect to see a change that is as significant as the transition from house calls to office-centered medicine.
Providers can also expect to see electronic health records (EHR) play a more prominent role in managing healthcare data. EHR will be vital as caregivers, medical teams, and even patients and family members collaborate to determine treatment plans that meet the patient's holistic needs. Remote monitoring devices that deliver data directly to patient EHR streamline data management and decrease the risk of security breaches and data-entry errors.
Establish a robust telehealth foundation now by selecting remote monitoring solutions that are agile, comprehensive, and collaborative to optimize growth investments and prepare for the changing landscape of healthcare.