Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) and Remote Therapeutic Monitoring (RTM) are both modern, advanced approaches to patient care management and monitoring. These services can effectively reduce emergency events, provide continual care, and optimize the time of physicians, consultants, therapists, and clinicians - but what are the key differences?
While there are some similarities, there are also key variances, not least in the CPT billing codes healthcare providers can claim reimbursements against and the types of conditions, indicators, or health concerns that may be relevant to the service offered.
Wanda Health explains how RPM and RTM compare to help you make informed choices about which solutions best fit your patient demographics and healthcare service.
What Is the Biggest Difference Between RPM and RTM in Healthcare?
The primary difference between RPM and the newer category of virtual care management delivered through RTM is that RPM is linked to the ongoing, automated transmission of physiologic data. Readings are normally taken daily through an FDA-approved device like a blood pressure monitor and sent securely to the relevant physician or outsourced RPM service for logging and tracking.
RTM services can include self-reported data that the patient manually uploads or logs within an app or other communication system – that data can relate to any measurements that apply to their therapy, including non-physiologic data.
Physiologic data is a measurement of a symptom or function, such as data showing blood glucose levels, pulse rates, or blood oxygen. Examples of non-physiologic data could include responses to therapies and adherence to prescribed treatments as part of a pain management plan.
Although the billing process is similar, there are alternative CPT codes specifically developed for reimbursements against RTM services. Just as a healthcare service can claim reimbursements for deploying an RPM device and educating the patient about its use, an RTM service can claim against patient messaging, data collection, and patient interactions.
Why Has the American Medical Association Introduced New RTM CPT Codes?
RPM came to the fore during the COVID-19 pandemic as a cutting-edge way to deliver ongoing support, communication, and patient care during a time when in-person appointments were often impossible. Although it had been used for some time beforehand, many healthcare providers and authorities recognized how valuable it could be in engaging with patients with physical or socioeconomic barriers to care.
The issue with the significantly expanded number of RPM CPT codes was that they excluded several prevalent types of therapies and healthcare services, including providers focused on respiratory and musculoskeletal conditions.
In 2022, the American Medical Association published a new series of CPT codes specifically relevant to RTM services, intended to expand the applications of RPM to a broader field of medicine and healthcare and open these billing channels to professionals such as occupational and physical therapists.
There are different codes since the data tracking and measurement types used in RTM are necessarily different. An RTM provider might, for instance, review data related to a therapeutic response rather than a condition like heart disease or hypertension.
Which Healthcare Professionals Can Submit Reimbursement Claims for RTM and RPM Services?
RPM CPT codes are claimable by any provider who meets the thresholds and eligibility criteria, whether RPM monitoring and interactions are delivered directly by a physician or practitioner or by an outsourced RPM service provider under the supervision of the assigned clinician.
Some non-physicians are also able to provide claimable RPM services, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, provided they comply with the requirements. RPM programs may be managed day-to-day by nurses, but a physician must conduct any interpretations of data or decisions about patient interventions.
RTM varies because it applies to any accredited therapist delivering qualifying services, including:
Clinical social workers
Speech and language therapists
Physiatrists (physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians)
The data analyzed through RTM is more subjective than the physiologic data collated through RPM, and the wider group of accepted therapy professionals who can submit claims ensures that therapy programs are more widely available.
Contrasts Between RPM and RTM Billing Codes
RTM codes apply to a broader scope of use cases. They can be used for conditions that require ongoing therapy or monitoring, such as those that affect the status or function of the respiratory and musculoskeletal systems.
Data can be manually uploaded or submitted by the patient and be self-reported rather than measured by a medical-grade RPM device. The patient can assess those metrics, such as reporting their pain levels on a predefined scale out of ten or noting whether they have followed recommended therapies or changes to their activity levels.
RTM codes are more generalized and can be utilized by a larger array of medical professionals. In contrast, RPM codes are used by physicians or other qualified medical providers and have specific evaluation and care management applications.
Read more information about RPM billing here.
Do RTM and RPM Use the Same Devices?
The specificity and accuracy of patient measurements are essential in RPM, and any provider claiming RPM reimbursements must provide their patients with an FDA-approved medical device, or often several devices, depending on the characteristics and medical conditions being monitored.
Any device used within RPM service delivery must:
Have automated functionality without relying on the patient to interpret the measurement or translate the results into a different unit of measure.
Connect with the physician, practitioner, or healthcare service, often transmitting readings through secure cellular networks.
Wanda Health's RPM devices are pre-programmed and integrated with the virtual care platform, where practitioners and patients can see the data and how it has changed over time.
Devices can include digital blood pressure cuffs, blood glucose monitors, pulse oximeters, electronic thermometers, and smart weighing scales, all of which take precise measurements. Clinicians use that data to manage and assess acute and chronic conditions and make immediate decisions when data indicates a potential or developing medical emergency.
RTM collects therapeutic rather than physiologic data and can utilize any software or medical device or depend on patients' self-reporting data about their response to treatment and the status of their condition.
An RTM device could include or combine with a wearable smart watch or similar technology that tracks activity levels, pain, mobility, sleep health, and cognitive analysis markers.
Many RTM providers also use apps where the patient can enter information such as therapy compliance to help the therapist determine whether their prescribed therapies are working and to improve patient accountability.
For more information about remote patient monitoring solutions vs RTM, please get in touch with the Wanda Health team at any time.