In an era where healthcare is rapidly transforming, digital healthcare solutions have taken center stage. One innovation already shaping the future of care is remote therapeutic monitoring (RTM).
As we adapt to the lasting impacts of a global pandemic, the importance of remote patient monitoring and remote therapeutic monitoring is becoming increasingly clear.
Originally introduced by the American Medical Association (AMA), remote therapeutic monitoring refers to the use of a digital medical device and technology-based services to monitor patients between rehab therapy visits.
In the growing landscape of digital health and virtual restorative care, remote therapeutic monitoring (RTM) has emerged as a crucial service system. Its primary function lies in tracking non-physiological patient data, thus enabling therapists, physicians and physician assistants to maintain a watchful eye on patients’ health conditions.
Moreover, this system establishes a digital bridge, connecting clinics and hospitals to their patients through innovative interactive communication and monitoring technologies.
What is Remote Therapeutic Monitoring (RTM) in Physical Therapy?
Before diving into the current state of remote therapeutic monitoring (RTM), it’s important to note the distinction between RTM and remote patient monitoring (RPM). While their names are similar, they serve different purposes and focus on distinct aspects of patient data.
Physical therapy remote patient monitoring (RPM) in centers on monitoring physiological parameters such as blood sugar levels, blood pressure, heartbeat and oxygen levels. It does so using a specialized medical device to track patient data. RTM, on the other hand, is concerned with non-physiological data, broadening the spectrum of telehealth and telemedicine.
The Emergence of RTM Codes in PT
Recognizing the potential of remote therapeutic monitoring (RTM) in expanding the scope of patient care, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has devised new coding systems, known as Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes. CPT codes are specifically tailored for RTM systems.
You can find more on CPT Codes later in this article.
Such codes, however, represent a clear indication of the growing emphasis on digital health solutions in the pursuit of more comprehensive and effective patient care.
Keep reading as this article will provide important details about remote therapeutic monitoring, present potential obstacles (and related solutions) to be aware of, and ultimately introduce you to the latest trends and the future state of virtual rehab therapy.
The Advantages of RTM for Physical Therapists
Again, remote therapeutic monitoring (RTM) is the practice of using technology to monitor and manage patients’ health and treatment progress from a distance. It involves gathering and transmitting health data from individuals in one location to providers in another, enabling a personalized, immediate response to changes in a patient’s status.
Remote therapeutic monitoring solutions offer physical therapists and patients a number of benefits, the top of which include:
Improved Accessibility: Remote therapeutic monitoring allows healthcare services to extend to individuals residing in remote areas, those unable to regularly visit clinics due to mobility challenges, and situations of global health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Increased Efficiency: Through regular and consistent data collection and analysis, providers can swiftly identify any issues or changes in a patient’s status, facilitating more immediate interventions.
Enhanced Patient Engagement: RTM encourages patients to become more active participants in their healthcare journeys, leading to improved therapeutic compliance and greater patient engagement.
Cost-Effective: RTM reduces the need for hospital readmissions or additional in-person visits, and increases the likelihood patients will complete their plans of care. This can lead to significant cost savings for both patients, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and all healthcare providers.
Challenges and Solutions of RTM for Therapists
While remote therapeutic monitoring (RTM) brings a host of benefits, it also could present challenges to those unfamiliar with the landscape of remote therapeutic care.
Consider potential threats such as:
- data security
- technology literacy, and
- maintaining consistent patient engagement.
This is not meant to alarm you! With appropriate measures, these challenges can be effectively managed.
There are several things you can do to prepare for and mitigate the aforementioned risks, while still helping achieve better patient outcomes:
Data Security: Utilizing secure platforms and adhering to data privacy best practices is crucial to protect sensitive health information. Medical providers should already be protecting patient data, so this risk is not solely for remote monitoring services, but worth pointing out anyway.
Technology Literacy: Successful implementation necessitates both the physical therapists and patients alike are adequately trained in using the technology integral to remote monitoring. Technological literacy will also help patients self report data accurately.
Patient Engagement: Regular interactive communication and feedback are keys to maintaining and improving patient engagement and ensuring adherence to therapy protocols. Improved patient adherence is a win for all parties involved.
To be clear, these potential challenges should not stop clinicians from pursuing virtual physical therapy solutions and remote monitoring technologies. We at Net Health are successfully helping our customers tackle these challenges and grow their practices on a daily basis.
However, we would be doing medical professionals, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nurse practitioners, physicians, and any other qualified health care practitioners a disservice not to acknowledge that challenges can exist for those not aware.
Decoding CPT Codes: Navigating the Reimbursement Code Landscape of Telemedicine
As introduced earlier, CPT codes play a crucial role in the field of rehab therapy, particularly in telemedicine and remote therapeutic monitoring. These codes are used by healthcare practitioners and therapists to classify and bill for services provided to patients.
It is advisable that any physical or occupational therapists taking advantage of remote therapeutic monitoring be familiar with these codes.
CPT codes have become increasingly relevant with the advent and evolution of telemedicine, where healthcare services are provided remotely.
Telemedicine has transformed the way healthcare is delivered, offering a convenient way for patients to access medical care from the comfort of their own homes.
With telemedicine or the right medical device, patients can consult with their healthcare provider, get medical prescriptions, and even receive treatments remotely.
To facilitate this, a range of procedural codes have been designed specifically for telehealth and RTM treatment management services. These codes allow for the classification and billing of various telemedicine services, ranging from virtual check-ins and e-visits to remote patient monitoring.
CPT Codes and RTM
In the context of remote therapeutic monitoring treatment, the right CPT code will allow for the tracking of non-physiological data transmission of patients.
For example, codes might be used to bill for services related to the monitoring of a patient’s rehabilitation services received, or their adherence to a prescribed diet or exercise regimen.
CPT Codes and RPM
There are also CPT codes related specifically to remote patient monitoring (RPM), focusing on the physiological data of patients. The differentiation between remote therapeutic monitoring (RTM) and remote patient monitoring (RPM) is crucial and is clearly defined in the CPT coding system.
Enough about remote physiologic monitoring of patients, the right CPT code, and remote therapeutic monitoring treatment as a whole. Lets look at yet another emerging way to benefit patients and providers, as well as reducing patient pain levels from afar.
The Emergence of Virtual Physical Therapy
As we delve deeper into the world of medical devices and digital health, new branches are expanding and even newer ones emerging. These include telerehabilitation (or telerehab), digital physical therapy, and digital musculoskeletal therapy (digital MSK).
Digital MSK specifically being a way for PTs to monitor musculoskeletal system, musculoskeletal system status, and patient pain levels.
Telerehab extends the reach of physical therapy services by using telecommunications technology. It allows for real-time interaction between patient and qualified healthcare professional, enabling the provision of care despite geographical distances.
The Benefits of Digital Physical Therapy
Digital physical therapy, which encompasses a range of digital tools from mobile applications to wearable devices, enables patients to engage in their rehabilitation with greater autonomy. It supports more personalized and consistent treatment, leading to better patient compliance and outcomes.
Furthermore, therapy clinics are presented with an opportunity to acquire patients over a vast area, no longer limited by mobility or transportation issues, distance to your practice, or other hurdles present in the physical world.
More than just providing autonomy, this also equates to restorative care being more accessible to patients at previous disadvantages, such as:
- busy schedules
- lack of reliable transportation
- socio-economic hardships, and
- lack of treatment options in otherwise remote, rural areas.
Digital MSK: The Future of Rehab Therapy
The rise of virtual digital musculoskeletal therapy (or digital MSK) represents another significant advancement in addition to remote patient monitoring.
Digital MSK care (the virtual monitoring of musculoskeletal system status) is a therapy model utilizing algorithm-based exercise prescriptions for some common MSK conditions.
This provides convenient, low-cost, evidence-based care at home for patients that also have access to live physical therapists or occupational therapists for questions and plan of care modifications.
However, this new evolution in therapeutic care continues to break new ground, with companies such as Net Health at the forefront.
While Silicon Valley is currently the heaviest investor in digital MSK technology, we at Net Health are continuing to innovate and listen to the needs of patients and practitioners by identifying new and accessible ways of delivering virtual therapeutic care.
Conclusion on RTM, RPM and Digital Physical therapy
At a time when medical device innovation and healthcare technology is reshaping the industry, remote therapeutic monitoring and its related fields, like telerehabilitation (telerehab), digital therapeutics and digital musculoskeletal therapy, are leading the way toward more personalized, efficient and accessible care.
Despite the challenges, the potential benefits are significant. By embracing these digital health revolutions and maintaining interactive communication we have the opportunity to enhance outcomes, improve patient adherence, and make restorative healthcare more available to all.
To learn more about the latest advancements in digital physical therapy or providing remote therapeutic monitoring service schedule a demo with Net Health today. Let’s talk.