As the US population ages, the number of people suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart conditions, or neuro-degenerative diseases will increase.

These people are in a precarious position, as the chronic nature of their conditions means that a lapse of attention or knowledge could result in their condition suddenly worsening, accompanied by a trip to the hospital emergency room.

RPM and cost of care

Chronic health issues cost the US a staggering $30 billion this year, and this figure is expected to grow to $70 billion by 2030. As the growing ageing population is going to be a constant and increasing cost to the US taxpayer, questions have arisen about the best way to deal with the issue.

The majority of the cost associated with a growing ageing population is due to clinical inefficiency. For example, a person with cardiac issues may have a heart attack before the doctor sees them, even though they were already showing symptoms beforehand that were not picked up in time. Alternatively, a person who is homebound and sick may need constant in-person, at-home care, which can be expensive.

Remote patient monitoring (RPM) focuses on monitoring a patient’s vital signs while they live their daily lives. This allows the patient to live normally without having to regularly visit the doctor to ensure that their health is not in danger, and allows doctors to focus their time and effort on people who are actually experiencing an emergency.

However, according to recent surveys, only about 10–15% of hospitals have installed the capability for virtual visits, which are considered to be a staple of RPM. GlobalData believes the reason this new technology is not being used by more institutions is its high cost for providers.

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Change in reimbursement plans

Fortunately, in January and March, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, updated its reimbursement plans for RPM services, allowing them to be reimbursed where before they were not, or where the rules were previously overly restrictive.

This has excited physicians and medical professionals throughout the US, as it shows the CMS is committing to a future where chronically ill patients can receive better care from the comfort of their own homes.