Home health visits are on the rise. As noted by Home Health Care News, demand for home care workers in New York is skyrocketing, with 17 percent of positions now left unfilled.1 Evolving federal infrastructure plans are also looking to expand in-home care with a $400 billion boost as more seniors prefer to age-in-place.2 And while growing care markets create opportunities for home health providers, new challenges around documentation, review and reporting have emerged. Ensuring regulatory rigor, comprehensive data collection, and standardized submission is now a top priority.
In practice, this requires evolving best practices for home health agencies. Let’s break down four of the most fundamental ones.
Best Practice #1: Ensure Alignment with CDC COVID-19 Guidelines
To help reduce the risk for caregivers and patients alike, the CDC has created a set of home health guidelines that include clinicians taking their temperature prior to each shift, conducting telephone screening with patients before attending their homes, and having both parties wear face masks whenever possible.3
More so, alignment with these guidelines consists of two components: completion of safety procedures and their commensurate documentation. Robust documentation is critical in the event that either party develops COVID symptoms, both to demonstrate CDC compliance and facilitate contact tracing. Best bet? Investment in streamlined digital document systems that offer intuitive data entry.
Best Practice #2: Create Comprehensive Document Repositories
A recent CMS tip sheet shows that the 30-day reporting requirement for OASIS data submission has been waived due to the current public health emergency.4 While delayed reporting offers a way for home care companies to prioritize in-home care over paperwork, however, this doesn’t eliminate the need for robust document submission. To minimize data errors or missing OASIS information, it’s worth deploying solutions capable of eliminating duplicate documents and creating secure data access across the organization.
Best Practice #3: Deploy Robust Visit Review Tools
With patient-centric care now the priority for home health providers, continuous quality improvement (QI) is key.5 But organization-wide improvements that measurably increase patient satisfaction — and by extension ROI — are only possible with data-driven QI plans. Data transparency and usability are essential to meet evolving QI needs. Here, home health is best-served by compliance and quality tools capable of monitoring critical milestones. It is also important to conduct comprehensive QI reviews using management by exception methodology to discover where care practices are working, where they need improvement, and how home health companies can better meet patient needs.
Best Practice #4: Simplify Billing and Claims Management
Accurate claim submissions are critical for home health providers to streamline payment processes and ensure consistent cash flow. As in-home care regulations evolve, however, insurance reporting has become more complex. Even small errors or omissions can derail submission timelines or prompt claim rejections. To lessen the chance of document denials, consider deploying end-to-end billing solutions that include built-in rules and validations for improved accuracy combined with automated authorization tracking to monitor patient claims status anytime, anywhere.
Home health services must evolve to meet growing demand and stay on top of regulatory compliance. To succeed in this expanding market, team members can turn to best practices that prioritize comprehensive and data-driven documentation, and provide reliable review and reporting for all in-home visits.
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1 Home Health Care News, “Why Boosting Home Care Wages Now Could Offset Labor Losses Later,” March 24, 2021.
2 The Wall Street Journal, “Biden Infrastructure Plan Would Fund Shift Toward Home Healthcare for Seniors,” April 12, 2021.
3 CDC, “What In-home Social Service Providers and Clients Need to Know about COVID-19,” December 11, 2020.
4 CMS, “COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) Tip Sheet,” July 2020.
5 HIT Consultant, “Why the Digital-First, Patient-Centered Care is Critical to Healthcare,” April 12, 2021.