More than three-quarters of Americans over 50 would prefer to remain in their home as long as possible, but just 59 percent believe aging-in-place is a realistic possibility.1 As noted by the CDC, however, a burgeoning home health care market offers potential pathways to in-place assistance. There are now more than 12,000 home health care companies across the United States.2
The home health industry is also experiencing significant growth as a result of the global pandemic. With seniors in care at greater risk than the population at large, comprehensive home health care offers a safer alternative to shared living spaces.3 But this rapid expansion brings increasing obligations, especially when it comes to creating and maintaining compliant home health documentation.
Here are three ways home health clinicians can ensure their digital documentation remains above regulatory reproach.
1. Reduce Home Health Data Collection Complexity
To help minimize patient risk and ensure consistency across home health services, the CDC has created a set of COVID-19 guidelines that include assessments of current patient stability, the number of caregivers required, and the ability of any other household members to comply with pandemic precautions. In addition, health providers must see to it that they’re equipped to quickly and accurately record any changes in current patient condition, along with providing detailed accounts of any care provided.4
This complex and evolving environment sets the stage for potential documentation disaster. If caregivers are missing key details or are inconsistent in their reporting practices, the regulatory consequences could result in significant loss of businesses. To address this issue, home health providers are well-served by implementing intuitive, self-service software that provides built-in compliance workflows to help ensure complete documentation compliance.
2. Improve OASIS Information Accuracy
Using the Outcome and Assessment Information Set (OASIS), home health agencies must regularly report both outcome and process measures to CMS under the Home Health Quality Reporting Program (HH QRP). As noted by CMS, however, updated versions of OASIS have been delayed since May 2020 “in order to provide maximum flexibilities for providers of Home Health Agencies (HHAs) to respond to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.”5
For many home health agencies, the sudden shift to pandemic priority care has created a gap in both outcome and process measure reporting, leaving providers potentially at risk when new OASIS frameworks are drafted. Here, it’s critical for HHAs to deploy proactive solutions that actively monitor for critical milestones — such as improvement, potentially avoidable event, timely initiation of care and multifactor fall assessments — so that current OASIS data is comprehensive and complete.
3. Identify Common Areas of Concern
According to Medicare.gov, home health can deliver a wide variety of services and are typically “less expensive, more convenient, and just as effective as care you can get in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (SNF).”6 As demand for home health care expands, however, so does the scope of work. Providers now offer everything from post-wound care to ongoing education, nutrition therapy and serious illness monitoring.
While this increased care complexity provides enhanced options for patients, it also introduces greater potential for risks if healthcare frameworks aren’t precisely followed. By equipping staff with advanced solutions capable of identifying risks via configurable alerts and follow-up action items, however, it’s possible to both improve patient outcomes and ensure documentation accurately reflects all relevant actions taken.
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1 AARP, “2018 Home and Community Preferences: A National Survey of Adults Ages 18-Plus,” revised July 2019.
2 CDC, “Home Health Care Data for the U.S.”, March 2016.
3 ASPE, “Long-Term Care and the Impact Of COVID-19: A First Look At Comparative Cross-National Statistics,” December 31, 2020.
4 CDC, “Interim Guidance for Implementing Home Care of People Not Requiring Hospitalization for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19),” updated October 16, 2020.
5 CMS, “OASIS Data Sets,” May 8, 2020.
6 Medicare.gov, “What’s Home Health Care?”