The demand for skilled hospice physicians is on the rise. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management (JPSNM), while the hospice and palliative medicine specialty is training 325 new fellows annually, this “is insufficient to keep up with population growth and demand for services.”1
What’s more, these physicians don’t operate in isolation. For hospice providers to deliver personalized, patient-centric care, medical professionals rely on a network of hospice aides and volunteers to perform care plan tasks as described and ensure accurate documentation.
The caveat? Increased reporting complexity, combined with rising patient volumes can frustrate these aims. Here are three ways to help volunteers and hospice aides better manage hospice workflow.
1. Streamline Patient Care Priorities With the Aid of Mobile Tools
Hospice aides are busy. Serving multiple patients across multiple locations every day and delivering specialized care plans to each individual, it’s easy for staff to get overwhelmed despite best efforts.
As noted in an article by Hospice News “issues related to care planning and hospice aide and homemaker services topped the list of most common deficiencies found during regulatory surveys during 2019, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).” 2 This meant that “nearly 60% of hospices surveyed did not successfully comply with the requirement that hospices must develop an individualized care plan for every individual and family served and provide services consistent with that plan.”
The result? Volunteers and care aides often find their time monopolized by documentation obligations. To help prioritize patient care, it’s worth equipping staff with mobile tools that make it possible to view both patient information and care plan items before they arrive on-site, in turn allowing them to focus on delivery in the moment and documentation when care is completed.
2. Support Customized Home Care Functionality
Customization is critical for successful hospice care. No two patients or care plans are identical, and as the hospice market expands, patients and their families are looking for providers capable of delivering customized care plans that combine medical recommendations with human connectivity. With Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) survey data now easily accessible via online portals such as Medicare’s Care Compare, patients can now verify if providers are living up to promises of care customization.3
Volunteers and hospice care staff play a key role in these customized connections, often acting as the most familiar, point-of-care contact for patients. Mobile-enabled hospice software systems can help keep these team members in the loop and ensure consistency of care across multiple patients in multiple locations. Solutions that automatically create timesheets based upon visit time, travel time and mileage plus the ability for staff to add agency customized non-visit activities mean providers can create an agile care environment to meet evolving patient expectations.
3. Simplify Hospice Billing Operations
Ensuring timely billing submission and claims processing is essential for reliable hospice revenue. And while solutions such as the Pepper hospice report can help providers identify potential problem areas in care claims, hospice providers are better-served by reducing these instances upstream at the point of care.4
The caveat? Ensuring that claims compliance doesn’t negatively impact reimbursement for the care delivered by the interdisciplinary team including the volunteers and hospice aides. Software solutions that work in the background — by providing compliance alerts prior to document submission — can reduce claims rejection risk without requiring additional effort from staff.
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1 JPSM, “The Growing Demand for Hospice and Palliative Medicine Physicians: Will the Supply Keep Up?” February 2, 2018.
2 Hospice News, CMS: Care Planning, Hospice Aide Services Top Survey Deficiencies, April 14, 2020.
3 CMS, “Hospice Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems CAHPS® Survey,” April 2, 2021.
4 Hospice News, “Accessing Hospice PEPPER Reports Can Help Avoid Audits,” January 31, 2020.