January 13, 2020 | Net Health

3 Minute Read

3 Ways a Home Health Therapy EMR Can Help Contract Therapy Providers Under PDGM

With the PDGM now in effect, home health agencies need contract therapy partners who can help them navigate the complexities of care. As contact therapy providers evaluate strategies for success, we’ve outlined three ways that the right therapy EMR can help you deliver more cost-effective, efficient therapy services under the new home health payment rule.

Better Insight Into Referrals

Many home health agencies send their referrals manually—via email, phone, fax and text. This makes it challenging to properly track and manage the intake process. Your therapy EMR system should provide a centralized portal that streamlines the process for everyone involved—and provides key insights that will help you successfully manage agency relationships, including:

  • Who are your best agency referral sources?
  • What is your average conversion rate?
  • How are your referral counts trending over time?
  • How are your referrals doing by discipline?

With the ability to dig into referral data, you can better support and manage therapy staff, understand who your best partners are and where you may need to refocus your efforts.

Managing Your Staff

Whether your contract therapy business is focused solely on home health, or you’re managing therapy across multiple markets, you need to ensure your therapists are providing efficient, quality care. These insights should rely on data—real-time views of how well your therapists are performing, so you can proactively identify and address issues. A therapy system with built-in business intelligence (BI) capabilities can help you understand, for example:

  • How much time your therapists are spending with the patient
  • The average number of visits per episode
  • Average number of visits a therapist provides
  • How well staff are improving functional outcomes

It will be especially important to monitor staffing under PDGM as agencies will no longer have the luxury of adding therapy visits as needed. You’ll need to make each therapy visit count to ensure the patient is progressing as expected toward the discharge goal.

Proving Therapy Care

With the move to value-based care under PDGM, many anticipate that therapy utilization will go down. Instead of adding therapy visits, agencies may be tempted to cut back. However, any drastic changes to therapy services will certainly raise red flags with regulators.

The bottom line: if therapy was needed before, it’s still needed after PDGM. Agencies will need to carefully manage care to ensure they’re providing the appropriate level of therapy. This is where having a therapy-specific EMR can give you an advantage. Many agencies use documentation systems not designed for therapy, which makes it difficult to provide consistent, defensible documentation that demonstrates the value and medical necessity of therapy to the episode.

Key capabilities to look for in a therapy EMR include:

  • Documentation workflows that walk therapists through the OASIS questions
  • Therapy-specific clinical libraries to help identify and select the most appropriate documentation and type of treatment for each patient
  • A comprehensive range of functional tests and measures to support evidence-based care
  • Total visibility into all details about patient referrals, patient status, scheduling and visit history—so everyone is on the same page
  • The ability to easily share documents and collaborate via an online portal, HIPAA-secure communications and real-time notifications

Tracking referrals, managing staff and proving therapy care are just three ways you can help home health agencies. For more information, request a demo of Optima Therapy for Home Health. To learn how to protect against therapy audits under PDGM, read Protect Your Home Health Therapy Services Against Audits.

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