Medicare will support the simultaneous use of smartphone applications with continuous glucose monitors, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced this summer.
The new policy will allow beneficiaries to link potentially lifesaving CGM devices with their smartphones as a way to better manage their diabetes and share data with caregivers. CGMs can give real-time measurements of glucose levels and potentially prevent deadly complications.
The American Diabetes Association said it was pleased with the agency’s decision.
“With the updated coverage policy, Medicare beneficiaries can use CGM in the way they and their healthcare provider determine is appropriate,” ADA officials told McKnight’s.
Although CGMs have been covered by Medicare since January 2017, people using smartphone devices in conjuction with these devices had risked losing coverage.
Dexcom, one company providing both CGM devices and monitoring apps, added that linking CGMs to smart devices “brings a whole new level of convenience to people managing this chronic disease.”
People with diabetes have sometimes been discharged from hospitals and nursing homes only to be readmitted due to an inability to successfully manage their glucose levels. Long-term care providers could benefit from CMS embracing this technology due to how challenging the population is to manage.
“In the 21st century, you need as much communication and resources as you can possibly have,” said Kim Walsh, RPh, director of pharmacy operations for RWJBarnabas Health Behavioral Health Center, who uses CGM herself. “It will be easier for LTC providers to anticipate if [patients’] blood sugar is low and be proactive to an emergency.”
The goal is to move CGMs to become more accessible for those who are blind or have low-vision.
“While this coverage change will benefit all Medicare patients with diabetes, it is a significant improvement to help meet the challenges that blind Americans or those struggling with other visual impairments experience every day,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), co-chairwoman of the Senate Diabetes Caucus.