The prioritization of patient-centric care combined with the increasing number of for-profit, freestanding hospice providers has prompted a shift in operational priorities: As noted by Hospice News, many hospices are now expanding their care options upstream to better serve patient needs as they see a role for themselves and their patients that extends far beyond the last months or weeks of life1,2
Another area of growth is in inpatient unit (IPU) care, also known as hospice house care, which provides the increased ability to accommodate all levels of hospice care within their own organization. Hospital-based hospice IPUs have already shown benefits in the continuation of care services post-IPU discharge, and also helped reduce the total costs of palliative care compared to traditional hospital admissions.3,4
The challenge for hospice providers? Ensuring consistent delivery of IPU care that both supports patients and ensures regulatory compliance. Here’s how the right software solutions can help.
1. Streamline Medication Management
One key component of effective IPU care is medication management. As noted by recent research, family members caring for patients in-house point to significant challenges in administering and documenting medication.5 When appropriate, the move to IPUs can help provide peace of mind for both patients and family members as medication management is handled by expert hospice providers.
Even within hospice IPUs, however, medication complexity is common. From ensuring multiple patients get the right medications on-time, every time, to completing comprehensive documentation around administration and dosing, and making recommendations for further evaluation. Manual processes can introduce potential errors that could see medications missed or doses undocumented.
Thankfully, software solutions that offer point-of-care documentation from any connected device make it possible to streamline medication management across IPUs. This helps ensure that patients get exactly what they need, when they need it without issue.
2. Prioritize Patient-Centric Practices
Patient-centric healthcare is now a priority for hospice IPU providers, but as noted by a recent study published in the BMC Palliative Care, “care providers require a multi-faceted range of clinical, legal, and logistical supports at the practice, organizational, and health system levels, to facilitate care delivery.”6
Software tools that help hospices quickly and accurately complete key tasks — such as intake evaluations, treatment plan creation and head-to-toe assessments — can reduce time spent on administrative operations and provide more time for staff to connect with patients.
3. Improve Workflow Alignment
As the number of hospices and IPUs increase, market competition is on the rise. By using tools such as those on the Medicare.gov Care-Compare website, patients and their families can easily identify hospice providers that go above and beyond for their clients.7
In theory, earning a spot at the top is straightforward: offer best-in-class care for patients. In practice, hospices need ways to minimize workflow complexity and maximize the amount of time staff have with patients. Web-based IPU workflow tools offer a way to improve workflow alignment by automatically syncing data entry and ensuring that staff always have access to the most accurate and up-to-date information available.
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1 Medpac, “Report to the Congress: Medicare Payment Policy,” March 2021.
2 Hospice News, “Top Hospice Trends to Watch in 2021,” January 1, 2021.
3 NIH, “The Effect of Inpatient Hospice Units on Hospice Use Post-Admission,” October 2008.
4 ResearchGate, “In-hospital Hospice Units: A Novel Approach to Care in the Final Days,” October 2012.
5 NCBI, “Pain Management Concerns From the Hospice Family Caregivers’ Perspective,” April 2018.
6 BMC Palliative Care, “Hospice Care Providers Experiences of Grappling With Medical Assistance in Dying in a Hospice Setting: A Qualitative Descriptive Study,” April 12, 2021.
7 Medicare.gov, “Care-Compare”, 2021.