Fear is a Gift to Providers

Healthcare providers are extraordinarily vulnerable to violence for a variety of reasons. In view of news of on-going violence, it’s important to review practical aspects of threatened and actual violence included in a book,
The Gift of Fear, by Gavin de Becker.

The premise of Mr. de Becker’s book is that there is never violence that comes without warning. In fact, if caregivers learn to listen to their intuition, there are warning signs that are likely to prevent injury. This point is not intended to blame caregivers by saying that violence is their fault because they did not listen to their “gut,” but to encourage caregivers to pay attention to their instincts and to act upon them.

To illustrate this point, Mr. de Becker uses the example of a woman who was raped in her apartment. Her rapist said that he was going to the kitchen to get a drink of water and told her not to move. As he was leaving the bedroom, he closed an open window. The woman said that she knew instinctively at that moment that the rapist was going to kill her and wanted to minimize the sound of his crime. So, in what the woman describes as an “out of body” experience, she silently followed the rapist down the hall and slipped past him in the kitchen, out of the door to the apartment and into the apartment across the hall. As she left the apartment, she could hear the rapist rummaging in kitchen drawers looking for a large knife.

Mr. de Becker points out that many people who suffer violence say that it came “out of nowhere,” “out of the blue,” or that it was “random.” After some thought, however, the victims of violence are often able to identify that they felt uneasy with the perpetrator or that the criminal seemed suspicious. “I just knew,” many victims of violence say. These intuitive feelings must be balanced against the overwhelming tendency to deny that violence is possible. As Mr. de Becker points out:

It may be hard to accept its importance, because intuition is usually looked upon by us thoughtful Western beings with contempt. It is often described as emotional, unreasonable or inexplicable. Husbands chide their wives about “feminine intuition” and don’t take it seriously. If intuition is used by a woman to explain some choice she made or a concern she can’t let go of, men roll their eyes and write it off. We much prefer logic, the grounded, explainable, unemotional thought process that ends in a supportable conclusion. In fact, Americans worship logic, even when it’s wrong, and deny intuition, even when it’s right. [p. 12]

Mr. de Becker’s point is that there are almost always “pre-incident” indicators; detectable factors that occur before violent acts. Caregivers need to use their “radar” to identify these indicators and to act upon them in order to avoid violence.

Managers and supervisors may be tempted to minimize and deny caregivers’ concerns about potential violence, especially because they often do not have direct contact with patients and their families. Managers and supervisors should recognize that fearful caregivers have likely experienced some “pre-incident indicators” that are described in detail in Mr. de Becker’s book. They should help caregivers express their concerns, as opposed to denying them.

From a practical perspective, violence against providers may be minimized by encouraging staff to pay attention to their intuition about patients, their families and others they encounter in the workplace. In any event, Mr. de Becker’s book is a must-read for providers!

©2019 Elizabeth E. Hogue, Esq. All rights reserved.

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Refresher: How to Contest Survey Deficiencies

New Conditions of Participation (CoPs) went into effect for home health agencies on January 13, 2018. Hospices have recently come under withering fire from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding egregious survey deficiencies that may result in a crackdown by surveyors on hospices. Private duty agencies are subject to increasingly complex regulatory requirements for licensure and participation in Medicaid Programs in many states. Providers anticipate that they may receive unwarranted deficiencies as a result of these developments. Consequently, it is important for providers to know how to contest inappropriate deficiencies.

The first action providers should take when they disagree with deficiencies is to contest them in Plans of Correction (PoCs) submitted in response to Statements of Deficiency. Surveyors in some states have reacted negatively to this practice, especially in those states that have what may be described as “bad survey culture.” Some surveyors have even demanded that any language expressing disagreement in PoCs must be removed before PoCs will be accepted.

It is important for providers to know that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has instructed providers to indicate disagreement in PoCs when they wish to contest deficiencies. Specifically, Chapter 3 of the State Operations Manual 3016E – Disagreement over Deficiencies states as follows:

A provider that disagrees with an SA finding regarding a cited deficiency or an acceptable PoC should be advised to annotate its positon on the PoC, and should specify why the SA’s citation is not correct…

In other words, providers that want to be heard regarding contested survey findings should express their disagreement in PoCs. Providers should express disagreement and the reasons for their disagreement in PoCs. They may also wish to request specific actions in PoCs, such as withdrawal of deficiencies. Providers must, however, be meticulous about how they contest deficiencies in PoCs.

Despite the fact that providers have expressed disagreement with deficiencies and perhaps have asked that the deficiencies be withdrawn, they must also submit a PoC for each contested deficiency. If providers do not also submit PoCs for each contested deficiency and challenges to deficiencies are rejected, providers may suffer adverse action, including loss of participation in the Medicare and/or Medicaid Programs, because they did not submit PoCs for every deficiency received.

In addition to challenging inappropriate deficiencies, providers should also utilize independence dispute resolution (IDR) processes that may be available to them. The processes for IDR may vary from state to state, so providers should identify state requirements and follow them.

Using these two ways to contest inaccurate or inappropriate survey deficiencies has produced excellent results for many providers. Providers must be prepared to stand up for themselves during the survey process by contesting deficiencies using the mechanisms available to them.

©2019 Elizabeth E. Hogue, Esq. All rights reserved.

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Complete, Accurate Documentation by All Providers Still Essential

Complete, accurate documentation is paramount in health care. Practitioners can’t achieve quality of care for their patients without it. Licensure and certification depend upon it. It’s necessary for payment. Avoiding possibly devastating results from audit activities by outsiders; including target probe and educate (TPE), RACs, ZPICs, and UPICs; relies upon complete, accurate documentation. It’s just plain crucial, yet providers continue to struggle mightily with inadequate documentation that regularly produces adverse results. How can the problem be addressed effectively?

Anecdotally, it seems that most providers know how to produce complete, accurate documentation, but they don’t. Now there is a study that seems to verify that this is indeed the case. Researchers from the University of Manchester, Columbia University and Appalachian State University worked with the Visiting Nurse Services of New York (VNSNY) to address questions about compliance. The results of the study appeared in the American Journal of Infection Control on June 14, 2018.

The study revealed that knowledge is not the most important factor with regard to compliance with effective infection control measures. The nurses in the study certainly knew about and understood standards of care regarding effective infection control. The study showed that attitude, as opposed to knowledge and experience, was the key factor to achieving compliance. The results of this study also seem applicable to compliance with applicable standards for complete, accurate documentation.

When providers identify deficiencies in documentation, it is often tempting to provide additional education to staff about how to document completely and accurately. The assumption seems to be that practitioners aren’t documenting completely and accurately because they don’t know how to do it. Instead, it now appears that the issue isn’t knowledge or experience at all. According to this study, it’s all a matter of attitude!

Consequently, targeted strategies to alter the attitudes and perceptions of staff members are needed. When staff members see documentation as the linchpin that it is, they will do a better job of completing documentation that is complete and accurate. How can managers change the attitudes and perceptions of staff members?

It seems likely that documentation must become personal. That is, practitioners must have some “skin in the game.” In other words, the importance of complete, accurate documentation is not avoidance of some distant payment denials or adverse audit results that may impact staff members little, if at all. The consequences of inadequate documentation must come home to practitioners in order to change attitudes and perceptions.

Managers can likely determine how best to accomplish necessary changes in attitudes and perceptions of their staff members. It may be helpful to individualize strategies for doing so. Perhaps it’s time to tie compensation extremely closely to the timely preparation of complete, accurate documentation. In short, less emphasis on reeducation and more emphasis on attitudes and perceptions is needed now!

©2019 Elizabeth E. Hogue, Esq. All rights reserved.

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Return on Investment (ROI)

The homecare industry has generally been highly profitable for some owners. Providers welcome this profitability and the resulting viability that it has brought to the industry. Private equity groups have become frequent purchasers of homecare providers, a sure sign of profitability. At the same time, the environment for the provision of services of all types has become difficult and perhaps even dangerous for providers. The consequences for violations of regulatory requirements have never been higher!

Business/referral arrangements have been a key focus of recent enforcement actions. It is fair to say that providers dare not enter into business arrangements without knowledgeable advice concerning applicable requirements that must be met. Such advice should not just be an explanation of what providers cannot do. Rather, the goal should be to assist providers to meet their goals in business relationships without violating the law. In other words, there is almost always more than one way to skin the proverbial cat! In many, if not all, instances, the cost of appropriate advice will be less than the value of the relationships formed that generate more business for providers.

So, what’s the problem? Why do providers continue to enter into business/referral relationships without meeting applicable requirements, thereby violating the law and putting themselves and their businesses at risk? Is it greed, pride, carelessness or a lack of sophistication in business matters? Why aren’t providers willing to spend money on compliant arrangements that will clearly produce more profit than the amount of legal fees incurred?

One explanation may be that the money to ensure compliance in new business arrangements isn’t in the budget, but does it really make sense to forego an unforeseen profitable business relationship and risk violations? The answer is a resounding, “No!”

Here are some examples:

• A physician who makes many referrals to a homecare organization comes to the provider and says that he/she would like to have a closer relationship with the organization that renders care to many of his/her patients. The physician says that he/she would like to serve as a Medical Director of the company. Management of the company knows that money to establish a closer relationship with the physician isn’t in the budget. A budget variance is likely justified in order to maintain and/or enhance the relationship with the physician.

• A large ALF comes to a home health agency, hospice or private duty agency and says that they would like the home care provider to be the exclusive provider of services to its residents unless, of course, residents choose other providers. Among other requests, management of the ALF says that it would like the provider to rent space on the premises of the ALF to be occupied by a liaison/coordinator on a part-time or full-time basis depending on the number of residents who receive services. The ALF wants to encourage residents to use all types of home care services to the greatest extent possible in order to help ensure that they remain in their apartments for as long as possible. The ALF thinks that the regular presence of a homecare liaison/coordinator will encourage residents to use home care services. The company knows, however, that there isn’t any money in the budget to hire a coordinator/liaison, pay rent or consult an attorney about legal requirements regarding renting space from referral sources, what coordinators/liaison are permitted to do, etc. Should the company miss out on this opportunity? Certainly not! Another budget variance is needed.
Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish! There is plenty of money to be made in the homecare industry, if that is providers’ goal, without violating the law and getting themselves and others in a heap of trouble.

©2019 Elizabeth E. Hogue, Esq. All rights reserved.

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Fraud and Abuse Enforcement: What’s in Store?

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the primary enforcer of fraud and abuse prohibitions, has issued its annual recommendations that, if implemented, will likely affect HHS programs positively in terms of cost savings, program effectiveness and efficiency, and public health and safety. The publication is entitled, “Solutions to Reduce Fraud, Waste, and Abuse in HHS Program: OIG’s Top Recommendations.” A complete copy of the Recommendations is available on the OIG’s website. Since it often seems that home care providers are unfairly the “poster children” for fraud and abuse, it is not surprising that some of the OIG recommendations will affect the home care industry.

First up! The OIG says that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should implement the statutory mandate that requires surety bonds for home health agencies that enroll in the Medicare Program. The OIG says that CMS could have recovered at least $39 million in uncollected overpayments between 2007 and 2011 if home health agencies had surety bonds in the amount of $50,000, as required.

Surety bonds are an “old story” in home care. Some readers may remember what can only be described as a debacle when CMS originally attempted to implement requirements for surety bonds for home health agencies. Anecdotally, the dollar amount of the bonds was low, the availability was relatively scarce and the costs were high. It’s hard to understand what has changed since initial implementation was attempted and what problems surety bonds will solve, except perhaps to create another barrier to entry into the industry. It hardly seems worth the effort given the other barriers that CMS can now put up!

Now no surprise at this recommendation in light of recent OIG reports about quality of care in the hospice industry. The OIG says that CMS’ only remedy for hospices’ poor performance is to terminate them from the Medicare Program. The OIG thinks that the availability of other types of remedies may help CMS address issues or poor performing hospices. Again, this recommendation is difficult to understand. Isn’t termination from the Medicare and Medicaid Programs the most effective incentive to correct poor performance?

The OIG also says that CMS should require States to either enroll personal care services (PCS) attendants as providers or require PCS attendants to register with their State Medicaid agencies and assign each attendant a unique identifier. The basis for this recommendation, according to the OIG, is that “PCS are subject to persistent fraud and beneficiary harm.” Heads up on this one private duty agencies! If adopted, implementation of this recommendation will require an enormous investment of time and other resources.

The OIG goes on to say that CMS should develop policies and procedures to improve the timeliness of recovering Medicaid overpayments and recover uncollected amounts identified by OIG audits. According to the OIG, CMS has not recovered overpayments identified in OIG reports consistent with Federal requirements. As of May 2, 2018, CMS had recovered only $909.2 million of the $2.7 billion in identified Medicaid overpayments.

Providers should watch for developments regarding these recommendations in future efforts by CMS to combat fraud and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid Programs.

©2019 Elizabeth E. Hogue, Esq. All rights reserved.

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Parade of Cases That Hurts the Hearts of All Homecare Providers

In July of 2019, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) published a report entitled “Safeguards Must Be Strengthened To Protect Medicare Hospice Beneficiaries From Harm.” The report is a summary of cases from a review of survey reports of fifty serious deficiencies in 2016. It truly hurts our hearts!

Let’s get the worst out of the way first: a hospice allowed maggots to develop around a beneficiary’s feeding tube! It’s very hard to imagine how this happened and it is truly horrifying.

In addition:
• A hospice did not treat a beneficiary’s wounds that became gangrenous, which ultimately resulted in the loss of the beneficiary’s leg.
• A hospice did not provide necessary respiratory therapy services for over two months, which caused the patient to have greater difficulty breathing, more fatigue and a “grey color to his skin.”
• A hospice failed to recognize signs of a possible sexual assault of a beneficiary and did not report them as required. Instead, the hospice got an order from a physician to insert a urinary catheter that the staff was unable to insert despite multiple attempts. The patient was transferred to a hospital where the staff recognized the signs of possible sexual assault and notified police.
• A hospice did not intervene when a beneficiary was harmed by his caregiver who would not help the beneficiary get up after falls and would make the beneficiary clean his own soiled briefs.
• A hospice did not take action when a beneficiary was abused by her daughter who used a chain and elastic seatbelt to keep the beneficiary from getting out of bed, left her mother in a wheelchair in the bathroom with the lights off, sprayed her with water when the patient called out for help and refused changes to her mother’s drug regimen because she preferred to keep her Mother sedated.
• A hospice did not address the repeated theft of a beneficiary’s medications by a neighbor, leaving him in emotional and physical distress.
• A hospice mismanaged a patient’s pain control when the hospice medical director refused to order different medications recommended by a consulting pharmacy and insisted on ordering other medications that had made the patient sick in the past.
• A hospice did not provide essential pain management services by failing to make needed medications available to a beneficiary who resided in an assisted living facility (ALF).
• A hospice did not provide care to a patient who was vomiting blood and in pain, and told the patient that there wasn’t much that could be done to help him at home.
• A hospice did not provide necessary wound care for a Stage IV pressure ulcer on a patient’s tailbone for two years. The patient was only given morphine to control the pain.
• A hospice did not properly train its staff about how to safely transfer patients. The staff dropped the patient on the floor and the patient’s right femur was broken.
Now, you may be thinking, “Well, this isn’t about us. It’s only about hospices.” Not so fast! Sadly, similar reports could be compiled about other types of home care providers, as we know from anecdotal reports and Statements of Deficiency issued based on surveys.

You may also be thinking, “It’s not about us. It’s about the provider down the road.” Careful! All providers are only one uncaring, poorly trained and unreliable caregiver away from these types of situations.

It’s very sad indeed. Individual patients suffered. Patients and their families who read about these instances may be more reluctant to receive home care. Referral sources may be less likely to refer. Capable, caring homecare staff members may be mistrusted. The industry is maligned and credibility is lost. Increased vigilance is surely needed by the entire home care industry in the face of this report because it hurts us all.

©2019 Elizabeth E. Hogue, Esq. All rights reserved.

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Incentive Compensation Paid to Bona Fide Employees

Payment of incentive compensation to marketers is standard practice in the home care, private duty, home medical equipment (HME) and hospice industries. The federal statute prohibiting illegal remuneration or the anti-kickback statute seems to permit payment of incentive compensation to employees. The statute says, in part, as follows:

(1) Whoever knowingly and willfully solicits or receives any remuneration (including any kickback, bribe, or rebate) directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind-

(A)in return for referring an individual to a person for the furnishing or arranging for the furnishing of any item or service for which payment may be made in whole or in part under this subchapter, or

(B)in return for purchasing, leasing, ordering, or arranging for or recommending purchasing, leasing or ordering any good, facility, service, or item for which payment may be made in whole or in part under this subchapter,

shall be guilty of a felony and upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $25,000 or imprisoned for not more than five years, or both.

(2) Whoever knowingly and willfully offers or pays any remuneration (including any kickback, bribe, or rebate) directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind to any person to induce such person

(A)to refer an individual to a person for the furnishing or arranging for the furnishing of any item or service for which payment may be made in whole or in part under this subchapter, or
(B)to purchase, lease, order, or arrange for or recommend purchasing, leasing, or ordering any good, facility, service, or item for which payment may be made in whole or in part under this subchapter,

shall be guilty of a felony and upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $25,000 or imprisoned for not more than five years, or both.

There are also several exceptions included in the anti-kickback statute, including the following:

(3) Paragraphs (1) and (2) shall not apply to-

….(B) any amount paid by an employer to an employee (who has a bona fide employment relationship with such employer) for employment in the provision of covered items or services…

Consequently, it seems clear that, as long members of the staff are bona fide employees, providers may pay incentive compensation without violating applicable prohibitions regarding payment for referrals.

In addition, on July 29, 1991, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published exceptions to the kickback and rebate statute in the form of safe harbors. These exceptions or safe harbors include the following:

(i) Employees. As used in section 1128B of the Act, “remuneration” does not include any amount paid by an employer to an employee, who has a bonafide employment relationship with the employer, for employment in thefurnishing of any item or service for which payment may be made in whole or in part under Medicare or a State health care program…

So far, so good!

Providers must be able to show, however, that marketers are bona fide employees.

A key court decision on this issue is United States v. Aids Healthcare Found., Inc.; 262 F. Supp. 3d 1353 (S.D. Fla. 2017); decided June 9, 2017. In this case, the Court pointed to the facts that staff members filled out various employment-related forms, underwent background checks and acknowledged reading employment policies to support a conclusion that they were bona fide employees. The Court also pointed to the fact that documents described staff members as “full time, regular,” and “at will.” Both the employer and the staff members in this case confirmed that they viewed the relationship as that of employer-employee. Staff members also worked on the premises of the Foundation using its supplies, and the Foundation deducted taxes from paychecks and provided tax forms.

Consequently, it is clear that home care providers that want to rely on the exceptions described above to pay incentive compensation to marketers must be able to demonstrate that marketers are employees using the above criteria.

©2019 Elizabeth E. Hogue, Esq. All rights reserved.

No portion of this material may be reproduced in any form without the advance written permission of the author.

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Comcast Eyes Remote Patient Monitoring

Published on HomeCare Magazine (https://www.homecaremag.com)
________________________________________
Comcast Eyes Remote Patient Monitoring [1]
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (May 23, 2019)—Comcast is rumored to be getting into remote patient monitoring, according to a report published on CNBC [2]. Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.

A team working under the direction of Senior Vice President and General Manager of Health Innovation Sumit Nagpal has been working on the device for more than a year, according to sources. The device will monitor people’s basic health metrics using ambient sensors. Comcast is also working on tools to detect falls, according to sources.

“Home health has been one of the fastest growing segments because the aging population prefers to be at home as much as possible, so for Comcast to recognize that this is a key need only validates this growth,” said Matt Fairhurst of the in-home workforce management tool Skedulo. “The industry needs solutions that help seniors be more independent and help deliver timely homecare when it’s needed the most.”

Sources report that while the device will be a smart speaker, it will not be able to tap into home systems or search the internet. But it will be able to make emergency phone calls in the case of a health event.

The company faces stiff competition from other tech giants, Google, Apple and Amazon, which have all expressed interest in, or are already playing in the health arena. Apple’s latest Watch can detect falls and has an FDA approved ECG monitor.
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Source URL: https://www.homecaremag.com/news/comcast-enters-remote-monitoring-market
Links
[1] https://www.homecaremag.com/news/comcast-enters-remote-monitoring-market
[2] https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/21/comcast-working-on-home-health-device-similar-to-amazon-echo.html

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Home Health is the Rising Star in the Healthcare Industry

The “senior tsunami” is here with approximately 10,000 people turning 65 every dayBy 2030, Americans 65 and older will represent 20 percent of the population at 70 million strong while during this same year, the number of seniors between the ages of 80 to 84 will increase 75 percent to 10.5 million people.  And, the majority of these seniors want to age in their homes.  This trend is evident from the analysis published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of the Actuary, which states approximately $103 billion was spent on home health in the United States in 2018, with the number predicted to grow to almost $173 billion by 2026

This type of growth not only comes with many pluses, but there are also minuses. Both will be explored further in this blog.

A Tight Labor Market

The annual growth rate for home health spending is predicted to be 6.7 percent by 2020, which is higher than any other category tracked, which equates to a competitive labor market for nurses, aides and caregivers.  While the average employment growth rate across all industries is projected to be about seven percent,according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the home health sector will grow by 54 percent by 2026, with much of the demand coming from home health aides and personal care aides.

Not only is the number of seniors growing dramatically every day, but two out of three older Americans have multiple chronic conditions, which also contribute to the escalating need for home health employees.

Breadth of Home Health Services

Many different types of professionals will be impacted by the rising star of home health. Even though the largest number of employees are home health aides and personal care aides, opportunities will also grow for therapists, paraprofessionals, RNs, administrators and coders.

Home health services encompass a broad gamut, including:

  • Home Health Aide Services
  • Medical Social Work Services
  • Nursing Services
  • Nutritional Services
  • Physical Therapy Services
  • Occupational Therapy Services
  • Speech Therapy Services
  • Home Medical Supplies and Equipment
  • Professional Medical Equipment Assessment Services

Service Payers

Home health reimbursements have been trimmed, and more are threatened due to national deficit concerns.  However, Medicare is still the largest single payer of home health care services.  In previous blogs, we have discussed value-based care, which Medicare is increasingly favoring by supporting improved patient outcomes while controlling costs.

However, a third of these Medicare patients are now enrolled in Medicare Advantage, which is known as Part C or MA plans.  The private insurance companies that offer Medicare Advantage do not provide as high a reimbursement rate for home health as traditional Medicare. This enables these companies to offer extra benefits such as hearing aids, transportation to doctor visits, and dental coverage which are not covered by traditional Medicare.

Looking Forward to an Expansive and Positive Future

Home health will go through many changes in the future, and the overall outlook is positive in spite of many challenges.Technology will continue to make inroads directly in the home, improving communication and helping to alleviate some of the pressures of the tight labor market.Also, home health agencies will implement new ways to ensure amazing caregivers are rewarded and retained.  Finally, the continuum of care will become more important, with collaboration between hospitals, senior living communities, and skilled nursing facilities, resulting in better patient outcomes.

Making Sure Your Home Health Agency is a Star

Home health is growing extremely fast, but to keep up with the market it often takes outside resources.  5 Star Consultants offers a knowledgeable and experienced team to help ensure your home health agency not only stays in the mix but becomes a leader in the industry.  To find out more about our training options, consulting and coding capabilities, contact us today at [email protected] or 866-428-4040.

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How Technology is Changing the Face of Home Health

Every day 10,000 baby boomers become 65 years old, which more precisely equates to seven people per minute turning this age.  According to a recent survey, 90 percent of these seniors want to “age in place”, which has led to explosive growth in the home health sector.  In fact, the home health market is outpacing every other type of care with its annual spending growth rate predicted to be 6.7 percent by 2020.  However, this “age wave” has led to a shortage of home health workers, with another million predicted to be needed by 2026.  To deal with these types of escalating demands, technology has become an increasingly important component of home health.  In fact, in 2005, the Home Care Technology Association of America was established to advance the adoption and use of technologies that support quality, safety, integrity, and the coordination of healthcare services in the home.  In this blog we will discuss not only how technology will help fill these employee shortages, but also how the quality of home health will improve thanks to these innovations.

Virtual Caregivers

With the shortage of home health workers expected to further increase in the coming years, technology companies are developing virtual caregivers to help alleviate this issue.  At the Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, Addison Care™ — the world’s first Virtual Caregiver, was launched.  Addison Care™ is a state-of-the art, 3D animated caregiver designed to engage aging and chronically ill clients throughout the home, not only supplementing care, but also providing various health and safety features. Addison appears on 15-inch monitors strategically placed throughout a patient’s home, offering the ability to conduct two-way conversations, and is programmed for a patient’s personal needs and plans of care. This virtual caregiver’s capabilities include 24/7 in-home checkups, medication reminders and verification of adherence, collection of vitals and real-time assessments if a client develops evidence of increased risk of falling or health decline.  However, virtual caregivers do need localized support from home health companies in order to thrive; therefore, relationships with these businesses are critical.  Addison is just one of the cost-effective virtual caregiver solutions that are being launched into the home health market currently.

Electronic Health Records

Electronic health records (EHRs) is another technological advancement, which provide numerous benefits for home healthcare providers.With the patient’s information being readily available, any time, any place, home health workers can manage care better and improve the quality of it.By having ready access to a patient’s complete record, home health agencies (HHAs) will improve coordination of care and communication with patients.  Also, when a clinician has comprehensive health information readily available, better testing, diagnostic and treatment decisions can be made, leading to improved health quality.

Alarm Integration Technology

The Internet of Things (IoT) is making headway into many different industries, including home health.  Smart sensors are now being placed in appliances to monitor patient’s movements and alert caregivers of any risky behavior.  For example, sensors can determine if a patient afflicted with Alzheimer’s has left the water running too long.  Also, smart sensors are being incorporated into mattresses to determine a patient’s movements, breathing rates and fluid retention, which is an early indicator of trouble related to chronic heart failure.

Changing Times for Home Health Agencies

The need for home health services is growing exponentially due to the aging population.  However, this growth cannot always be fulfilled with current resources and methods; therefore, outsourcing and technology are critical to ensure excellent patient care.

5 Star Consultants can help you stay competitive in the home health market.  Our team of experts stay on top of the constant changes taking place in the home health industry and can ensure your staff does too.  For further information about our services, please contact us at [email protected] or 866-428-4040.

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