The headline says it all: 62% of hospice and palliative care clinicians suffer from burnout, according to research. Of course, when you consider the characteristics of the job—the emotional aspect, around-the-clock care and being pulled in different directions—this is hardly a surprise.
The question is how you deal with it—and even prevent it. A key part of the solution is building a smooth operation behind the scenes. Hospice clinicians are less likely to burn out if they can focus their time and attention on patient care, rather than unnecessary processes and administration.
Electronic medical records (EMR), especially hospice-specific software, can offer significant relief—helping to streamline documentation and eliminating time-consuming tasks and after-hours charting. If your agency is not seeing any of these benefits, then it may be time to take a second look at the software you’re using.
Here are five things that every hospice solution should provide to ease the burden on your clinicians and support your mission:
1-IDG Meeting Prep in Seconds – A survey of hospice professionals found that 35% of respondents took between 2-5 hours to prepare for an IDG meeting; 15% took even longer. That’s precious time that could be spent with patients and families…or giving clinicians their personal time back. Hospice software should be able to eliminate IDG prep time by automatically pre-populating all required patient charts, notes, forms and other hospice documentation, so clinicians can start a meeting at any moment. Instead of staff wasting time printing paper or finishing their prep work the night before a meeting, they should be able to just show up to the meeting and log into their devices.
2-Total Visibility Over Scheduling – If you’re managing multiple patient visits per week and changing schedules, you’re going to want to have total visibility over scheduling. This requires taking a more proactive approach to ensure visits are logged and compliant with visit frequency orders. Look for hospice software that alerts you if clinician visits or documentation are out of compliance with Medicare rules—before it’s too late. Compliance issues can result in claim rejections and, in turn, cause more scrutiny by auditors. Hospice software should also eliminate the complexity of scheduling and provide real-time views that empower you to manage staff and stay compliant while adjusting to the needs of your business.
3-Point-of-Care Support – EMRs designed more for home health and less for hospice often include unrelated fields and workarounds that make it difficult for clinicians to do their jobs. These solutions force clinicians to tediously click through screens and unrelated home health questions, such as wound care progress, which means less time with patients and, more often than not, bringing work home to complete. You should be able to avoid these and other issues with hospice software that:
- Guides clinicians through all the required hospice forms and deadlines, making it easy to document care and build a hospice-specific interdisciplinary care plan.
- Allows clinicians to document care in homes with limited or no cell/Wi-Fi connectivity, eliminating the need to chart after-hours.
- Provides various palliative, patient decline and pain management graphs that empower clinicians to identify patient needs, and demonstrate disease progression and patient decline that supports a six-month terminal prognosis given the anticipated trajectory of the disease.
4-Flexible Billing Options – Every hospice agency is different, and your needs may change over time. If you manage billing in-house, then you’ll want a solution with hospice-specific guardrails and alerts that prevent clinicians from providing incomplete documentation and catch billing errors before they go out the door. This will save your team invaluable time and ensure your biller’s job is as simple as “click, review and submit.” However, depending on the needs of your hospice, you may also want to consider hospice billing services.
This was the case for Hope Healthcare and Hospice, which, in early 2018, had just opened its doors. “None of our staff had done billing in the past, so when Optima offered us its RCM service, we knew it was the right choice for us,” said Beryl Dore, administrator at Hope Healthcare and Hospice. With Optima RCM for Hospice, Dore’s team was able to focus on running the agency, leaving the billing to Optima.
5. Real-Time, Secure Communications – Finally, you’ll need a way to simplify communications, starting with secure, web-based access to patient data and HIPAA-compliant messaging that’s integrated as part of the EMR (i.e., not an add-on capability or cost). This will enable clinicians to quickly and easily communicate with physicians, case managers and other members of the care team. When team members get a call to visit a patient, they shouldn’t have to spend time digging through paper charts. It should be as simple as pulling up a patient’s details on a tablet or laptop—so by the time the clinician reaches the patient’s home, they’re fully updated on the patient’s status.
Hospice burnout is real…but it’s entirely preventable. Having the right solution in place—one designed exclusively for hospice agencies—can significantly ease the burden on your team and support your business!
To learn more about Hope Healthcare and Hospice, read the case study.
 Source: 2018 Optima survey of hospice professionals