Guest Post: Cracking the Care Management Code: How Providers Can Get Paid for Remote Services

Thursday, February 21st, 2019
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

With a successful remote care management model in place, healthcare organizations can increase annual revenues by about $500 per patient.

Healthcare organizations and physician practices are stepping up efforts to reduce avoidable healthcare utilization and ensure patients receive care in lower-cost settings when appropriate.

As part of these efforts, many providers are considering remote care services, such as e-visits, remote health monitoring, secure messaging, and regular check-in calls with patients. These remote interactions can increase patient adherence to treatment plans and lead to faster interventions when problems arise.

While payers have been slow to reimburse for remote care services (despite the clinical benefits), providers today can take advantage of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reimbursement for Chronic Care Management (CCM) services to improve care management for many of their Medicare patients.

To qualify for CCM reimbursement, practitioners must spend at least 20 minutes of non-face-to-face clinical staff time per month on care coordination for CCM patients. To be included in a CCM program, patients must have two or more chronic conditions expected to last at least one year or until death, and those conditions must place patients at significant risk of death, acute exacerbation, or functional decline.

Payments for CCM services, which can be provided by physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and their clinical staffs, can range from approximately $43 to $141, depending on how complex a patient’s needs are, according to CMS.

When a successful remote care management model is put in place, healthcare organizations can increase annual revenues by about $500 per patient, which translates to $50,000 per year for an organization with 1,000 CCM patients.

Getting Involved

Recent data show that many providers have yet to take advantage of CCM. In fact, as of 2016, the program had touched only 684,000 Medicare patients, according to a 2017 CCM report. That’s less than 2 percent of all Medicare recipients.

One reason is that providers face many barriers when attempting to implement remote care programs. Technology, of course, is one hurdle, but CCM services also take clinical and administrative staff time and resources (such as time spent billing for CCM services and ensuring compliance).

This is why many organizations are turning to outside partners that specialize in remote care management to deliver CCM. These partners can enroll patients into the CCM program (a step that is much harder than most practices anticipate), deliver remote services each month, ensure compliance, and bill for services.

The Wright Center, a safety-net primary care provider in northeastern Pennsylvania, is one provider that sought outside help to achieve its CCM goals. The result of its partnership with a remote services provider included net new revenue within 14 days of partnering with the company, an additional $536 per enrolled patient per year, a 73 percent patient retention rate after two years, lower hospital admission rates, and higher patient satisfaction scores.

Four Key Attributes

Because many providers have found delivering remote services challenging, it’s important to select a partner that has the right model and proven success improving patient engagement and outcomes. Key capabilities to look for in a partner include:

  1. Being staffed with nurses or other clinicians who become a trusted and integral part of the healthcare organization’s team. These clinical staff members should have a strong record of establishing productive relationships with providers in the healthcare organization and with patients remotely.
  2. Working seamlessly with the EHR and population health tools already in place at the healthcare organization. The partnership should not result in an additional burden on IT staff members at the healthcare organization.
  3. Providing a customized program to suit the healthcare organization’s specific needs, goals, and workflows. An organization’s CCM needs will vary depending on the patient population, in-house resources, and technology already in place. The partner should be able to tailor its services accordingly.
  4. Proactively addressing social determinants of health and barriers to care. For example, it should be able to share results that showcase its ability to engage a senior population and address their unique needs.

As value-based reimbursement gains traction, healthcare organizations that don’t start exploring remote healthcare services will fall behind. It’s time to get involved, and CCM is a great way to start.

Drew Kearney

Drew Kearney

About the Author: Drew Kearney has been a healthcare leader since 2010, with expertise in post-ACA market opportunities and experience leading expansion initiatives in multiple markets. In 2015, he co-founded Signallamp Health, a company that offers a unique solution operationalizing population health.

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