How to Offset Declining Reimbursement with Remote Therapeutic Monitoring & Digital Health Services

The Calendar Year (CY) 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule has been released, and CMS has cut outpatient therapy reimbursement for the fourth consecutive year in what is becoming a demoralizing annual tradition for therapy providers. The cuts are unfortunate, but if there is a small silver lining to be found, it’s that they were not as severe as expected. While that may provide little comfort, it is important to take note of this pattern and adjust strategy to cope with these new business realities.

Tips to Survive & Thrive in Today’s Regulatory Landscape

Providers should be taking stock of their wins and losses this regulatory season and consider how increased supervision flexibility and declining reimbursements will impact their business strategy. Organizations need to get creative and seek out new sources of revenue, new partnerships, new programs, and new contracts. Successful organizations know the value they provide and can translate that value into an impact a health system, payer or employer can understand. Generating that kind of impact requires technology to scale the impact of the PT and collect the data needed to demonstrate the impact on outcomes and cost. 

The field of physical therapy has struggled with proving outcomes for years — though, that is improving, as shown by the APTA’s recent report. However, more data and more engagement in value-based payment models is important to ensure CMS can effectively measure the impact of PT-based interventions and services on Medicare beneficiaries. These are larger issues than just one clinic or organization, but we can all do our part to help — so what can you do to get started? 

Don’t Put It Off Any Longer: Use Technology to Enhance Care

PTs can no longer continue sitting on the sidelines while other settings incorporate digital strategies into their care. Declining payments and vendors offering outsourced care have become major business concerns for many in the outpatient and private practice settings. Therefore, we recommend that all providers take steps to collect outcomes, engage patients and leverage technology where they can. 

Step Forward with Remote Therapeutic Monitoring (RTM)

Poor adherence to a therapy plan of care and early self-discharge are chronic problems with traditional PT that can hurt your outcomes. RTM solves these issues by giving you data on activity and a direct line of communication with your patient. That connection is a strong motivator for your patient. Who isn’t on their best behavior if they feel like someone is holding them accountable? When you’ve got higher levels of engagement from RTM, you have fewer of your patients failing to progress, and you can be more successful in a program like MIPS or a contract where outcomes affect your revenue. 

Furthermore, RTM is a hit with patients and the service works well for patients who want more feedback, engagement, and progression in their programs. Not to mention the clinical benefits of incorporating RTM into your practice, including:

  • Data-driven clinical decision making 
  • Extended access to more patients 
  • Improved communication 
  • Enhanced therapeutic alliance and engagement in care
  • Reduced total cost of care

What’s Next: 2024 RTM Updates

RTM is an exciting opportunity for physical therapy clinics to step into digital care. The new physician fee schedule offers clarifications and flexibility for RTM providers, but more importantly demonstrates that CMS is continuing to develop and expand the usage of the RTM family of codes. CMS finalized a general supervision carve-out for RTM services provided in private practice, giving organizations more tools to develop efficient models of monitoring that generate the data needed to improve patient care and demonstrate the impact of physical therapy. 

Ready to take the next step into the world of RTM and digital care? Set up a demo today to learn more about how MedBridge can help you improve patient engagement and your bottom line.