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Smartphone Apps and Diabetes

Medicare will soon cover smartphone apps used with approved continuous glucose monitors for people with diabetes, according to a statement released by CMS.

Coverable CGM

The rule change follows a push from lawmakers, diabetes advocates, and stakeholders, who have called for coverage of connected smartphone apps since CMS first announced CGM devices would be categorized as “durable medical equipment.” The policy in place currently restricts beneficiaries from using a smartphone app to share data and alerts from their otherwise coverable CGM.

In a statement posted online by CMS’ Durable Medical Equipment Center, the agency said the change is consistent with its approach of putting patients first and “incentivizing innovation and use of e-technology.”

After hearing concerns that the Medicare CGM coverage policy limited the use of CGM with smart phones, the CMS reviewed the law and announced that Medicare’s published coverage policy for CGMs will be modified to support CGM use. This will include the data-sharing function.

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What It Means

This change is especially big for parents of children with diabetes. They will now be able to monitor their blood glucose remotely.

The change will allow better monitoring, particularly for children and older adults with diabetes, as well as the ability for health care providers to make improved treatment decisions by using apps to interpret data from meals, exercise, medications and insulin boluses. The change will also allow expanded coverage for people with diabetes, the organization said.

Medicare beneficiaries will be the only ones covered initially, but private insurers usually follow their lead.

Many technologies work with smartphone applications and current Medicare coverage policies do not support this usage, but with the revision that the CMS has announced, this will soon change.