Hypertension and Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) Using Automatic Blood Pressure Monitors

Remote patient monitoring (RPM) lets providers manage chronic conditions outside of patients’ scheduled appointments. Data collected through RPM provides opportunities to intervene more quickly when health conditions worsen. It also helps patients take a proactive role in their own care by providing access to their own data so they can better understand the impact of lifestyle choices and treatment on their medical condition(s). One simple and effective way to allow for remote patient monitoring of hypertension is through the use of an automatic blood pressure monitor.

Help your HPSM patients get an automatic blood pressure monitor

An automatic blood pressure monitor is a device that allows a patient to measure their own blood pressure through a cuff wrapped around their arm or wrist which then automatically inflates to generate a reading. Eligible HPSM members can get an automatic blood pressure monitor covered through various channels depending on what type of coverage they have.

Read the sections below to learn how you can help your HPSM patients get an automatic blood pressure monitor.

Note: Automatic blood pressure monitors are distinct from ambulatory blood pressure monitors (which measure and store blood pressure readings continuously throughout the day and night) and manual blood pressure monitors (which utilize a manually inflated cuff along with a stethoscope). Both ambulatory and manual blood pressure monitors are covered under the DME benefit for eligible Medi-Cal, CareAdvantage, HealthWorx, and ACE patients. However, they are beyond the scope of this article.

For Medi-Cal members: covered through Medi-Cal Rx


Automatic blood pressure monitors are a covered benefit under Medi-Cal Rx when they are a pharmacy-billed item  (limited to 1 monitor every 5 years and 1 replacement cuff yearly). If you have a Medi-Cal patient that needs an automatic blood pressure monitor, follow these steps:

  1. Issue a prescription containing both the following information:
    1. Write for one of Medi-Cal Rx’s preferred automatic blood pressure monitors. Be sure to specify the product name and the NDC to ensure that the claim will be paid. Click here (under “Covered Products Lists” → “Contracted Personal Blood Pressure Monitoring Devices and Blood Pressure Cuffs”) to see the list of preferred products.
    2. Write on the prescription, the applicable ICD-10 code (e.g., I10 for essential hypertension, etc.) related to why the patient needs blood pressure monitoring. The pharmacy will need this to adjudicate the claim successfully.
  2. Send the prescription to your patient’s local pharmacy.

For CareAdvantage members

Blood pressure monitoring devices are not covered through CareAdvantage’s outpatient pharmacy benefit. However, providers can try to get them covered for their CareAdvantage members through Medi-Cal Rx as described above.

For HealthWorx and ACE members

Blood pressure monitoring devices are not covered as an outpatient pharmacy benefit.


HPSM covers one automatic blood pressure monitor every five years for eligible members as part of the DME benefit for Medi-Cal, CareAdvantage, HealthWorx, and ACE patients. To obtain one, follow these steps:

  1. Contact one of HPSM’s in-network DME vendors to see if they carry automatic blood pressure monitors. See a list of DME vendors.
  2. Complete the DME vendor’s order form and send it to them via fax.
  3. The DME vendor will then bill HPSM for the cost of the automatic blood pressure monitor and ship it to the patient’s home.

For CareAdvantage members only, blood pressure monitors can be obtained without a prescription through the OTC+ program. The OTC+ program is administered through HPSM’s vendor, NationsBenefits. For more information, refer your patient to our CareAdvantage OTC+ benefit page or have them call 1-833-910-1826 (TTY: dial 7-1-1) to talk to a NationsBenefits representative.

Help your patient choose the appropriate cuff size

Choosing a cuff that is too small or too large can lead to incorrect blood pressure readings. Use the tips below to choose the correct cuff size.

Adult Patients

  • Measure Your Patient’s Arm. Wrap a tape measure around the patient’s bicep, at mid-arm to determine the arm circumference. This is typically measured in cm.
  • Help your patient select a cuff size based on arm circumference. For adults, the ideal cuff will have:
    • A bladder length is ≥ 80 percent of the patient’s arm circumference.
    • A bladder width is ≥ 40 percent of the patient’s arm circumference (ex. for 15” arm, 6” wide cuff and 12” length).

Pediatric Patients

  • Measure Your Patient’s Arm. For children in whom the appropriate cuff size is difficult to determine, the mid-arm circumference should be obtained for an accurate determination of the correct cuff size. The mid-arm circumference is measured as the midpoint between the acromion of the scapula and olecranon of the elbow, with the shoulder in a neutral position and the elbow flexed.
  • Help your patient select a cuff size based on arm circumference. For children, a cuff that fits properly will have:
    • An inflatable bladder width that is at least 40 percent of the arm circumference at a point midway between the acromion and the olecranon.
    • Bladder length that is 80 to 100 percent of the arm circumference (covers approximately 2/3 upper arm).

When selecting a cuff, instruct your patient to always check the arm circumference printed on the inside of a cuff since size can vary by manufacturer.

Arm circumferenceRecommended cuff size 
cmin(width x length in cm)
22 - 268.7 - 10.212 x 22 (small adult)
27 - 3410.6 - 13.416 x 30 (adult)
35 - 44 13.8 - 17.316 x 36 (large adult)
45 - 5217.7 - 20.516 x 42 (extra-large adult)

Tips for remote blood pressure monitoring

Here are ways you can support patients with hypertension.

  • Discuss with your patients why self-measured blood pressure is important to their care. Share that self-measured blood pressure:
    • helps with diagnosis.
    • can lead to better blood pressure control, which reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. Patients who understand the importance of self-measured blood pressure are more likely to remain engaged.
  • Teach your patients how to accurately check their blood pressure. To ensure your patients accurately check their blood pressure, provide guidance on the following:
    • Choosing the correct cuff size.
    • Positioning the cuff correctly on the arm.
    • What steps to take to prepare for measuring blood pressure, including correct posture.
    • How to turn on the device and measure blood pressure.
    • What the blood pressure reading means.
    • How to document blood pressure readings.
    • How often to measure.
  • Ask your patients to teach back what they have learned to ensure they understood how to correctly measure their blood pressure.
  • Provide guidance on what your patients should do if they get high blood pressure readings.
  • Inform your patients that a single high reading (SBP between 140-180 or DBP between 90-120 mm Hg) is not an immediate cause for alarm. If your patients get a reading that is slightly or moderately higher than normal, ask that they take their blood pressure a few more times and follow up with you to verify if there’s a health concern or any issues with their monitor.
  • Instruct your patients on what to do if blood pressure readings suddenly exceed SBP 180 and/or DBP120 mm Hg. Let patients know to wait five minutes and check their blood pressure again. If the readings are still unusually high and they are not experiencing any other symptoms of target organ damage, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision, or difficulty speaking, instruct patients to contact you immediately. Members can also call HPSM’s Nurse Advice Line at 1-833-846-8773 to speak to a Licensed Registered Nurse (RN) if they think they need urgent medical attention, but are not sure.
  • Instruct your patients to call 911 immediately if their blood pressure is higher than SBP 180 and/or DBP120 mm Hg and they are experiencing signs of possible organ damage such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision, or difficulty speaking.
  • Remind your patients to schedule a follow-up visit with you to review their blood pressure readings. This is especially important if results are not in the goal range. Consider more frequent follow up until blood pressure is at goal.
  • Share educational resources with your patients.
    • American Medical Association’s seven simple tips to get an accurate blood pressure reading with your patients. The tips are available in English and Spanish.
    • American Heart Association’s video for monitoring blood pressure at home, available here.

Identifying patients who have hypertension is a key step in helping them manage this health condition. By appropriately diagnosing hypertension and reporting blood pressure measurements, we can work together to improve health outcomes. Use the tips below when documenting blood pressure measurements taken by patients using a digital device.

  • Document when your patients take their blood pressure with a digital device at home. Blood pressure measurements taken by a patient and documented in the patient’s medical record are eligible for use in reporting if the patient uses a digital monitoring device. Make sure the documentation in the medical record states that the reading was taken with a digital device and interpreted by you.
  • If there are multiple blood pressure measurements on the same date of service, you can either:
    • Record an average blood pressure based on the patient’s reported blood pressure readings. Make sure to record the average blood pressure reading with the date of encounter/visit when the average was captured.
    • Or you can use the lowest systolic and lowest diastolic blood pressure as the representative blood pressure reading for coding. The systolic and diastolic results do not need to be from the same reading.
  • Record one date for patient reported blood pressure measurement in Electronic Medical Record (EMR). If the blood pressure measurement is from the day of the encounter/visit, you can record the date of the encounter/visit. If the blood pressure measurement is not from the day of the encounter/visit, you can still record the date of the encounter/visit as the date the blood pressure measurement was captured.
  • Follow HPSM’s Benchmark Pay for Performance (P4P) Program Guidelines. Primary care clinics receive monitoring reports of blood pressure control (<140/90 mm Hg) for assigned patients with hypertension through HPSM eReports. Clinics serving adult Medi-Cal and/or CareAdvantage patients are eligible for incentive payments under HPSM’s Benchmark Pay-for-Performance program if blood pressure is controlled for patients meeting all of the following criteria:
    • 18-85 years old;
    • At least two outpatient visits for primary or specialty care in the calendar year;
    • A diagnosis of hypertension in the first six months of the calendar year AND the year prior.