A Medicare rule limiting data transmission from a high-tech glucose monitor sets a bad precedent for coverage of future remote patient-monitoring technologies, developers and scientists argue.

At issue is a policy that prohibits beneficiaries from using an FDA-approved mobile app to send results from a glucose-monitoring device to their doctors, families and caregivers.

Remote data transmission could be helpful in nursing homes, where physicians aren’t always in the building.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the first continuous glucose monitoring device in September, and a second that incorporated a mobile app followed shortly afterward. Another company’s version was approved just this week.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid cover such devices for patients with “intensively managed diabetes,” but ruled that to receive coverage, patients still must must see their doctor to have any data downloaded for interpretation. 

Inside Health Policy reported this week that scientists and policymakers are criticizing how the policy came about. An administrative ruling used only about a dozen times went so far as to include the price Medicare would pay for such devices.

James Scott, president and CEO of Applied Policy, told the newsletter the glucose monitoring policy sets a bad precedent for other telehealth advancements.

Others representing providers and diabetics are writing to CMS asking the agency to allow beneficiaries to use FDA-approved apps.

“Families, caretakers along with providers and diabetes educators are key players in the team of people who assist the person with diabetes,” said Leslie Kolb, chief science and practice officer for the American Association of Diabetes Educators. “The ability to link the patient’s glucose data is critical.”