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The New BREATHE Legislation Brings Respiratory Therapists Into The Telehealth Equation

Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a subcategory of home telehealth. Among its many beneficiaries are patients with chronic conditions such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). In the United States, COPD affects over 12 million adults and is the third leading cause of both death and 30-day readmissions. Following discharge, nearly one-quarter of COPD patients are admitted back to the hospital within 30 days. New legislation stands to reduce adverse effects and hospitalizations for people living with COPD by enabling respiratory therapists to treat patients via telehealth.

The New BREATHE Legislation

US Representative TJ Cox, along with fellow Representatives Mike Thompson and Earl “Buddy” Carter recently introduced the BREATHE (Better Respiration Through Expanded Access to Tele-Health) Act. This bipartisan legislation will designate a 3-year pilot program that will allow qualified respiratory therapists to work as telehealth practitioners and provide disease management services to patients with COPD. The pilot will allow ample time for CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) to gauge how effectively respiratory therapists function as telehealth professionals, helping to improve COPD patient outcomes while reducing costs and utilization.

Benefits For People Living With COPD

The new legislation would give patients with COPD easier access to advanced remote monitoring. People with COPD, especially seniors living in rural communities, would benefit from timely care in the comfort of their own home. Symptoms of chronic respiratory conditions such as swollen feet and shortness of breath are often not prominent enough for patients and their caregivers to sound the alarm. But with early detection, effective RPM solutions, and communication with respiratory therapists via telehealth, instances like these could soon be a thing of the past.