Recently we gathered some of the foremost experts in home health and hospice for a forum to discuss the effects of COVID-19 on the industry. Agency leaders, consultants, and vendors all came together to share their insight on what changes they’ve made or seen to patient care, financial operations, and overall agency operations. Here is a summary of the key pieces of advice our experts shared during the financial operations session.
COVID-19 Effects on Home Health & Hospice Financial Operations
The financial operations webinar in our COVID-19 forum engaged panelists in a discussion on ways home health and hospice agencies could achieve financial success during the pandemic when so many others are struggling.
- Despite lack of Medicare reimbursement, agencies are using telehealth to care for patients. It’s proven to be a good tool to help manage fear, including physicians who worry they’re discharging patients too soon, patients and their families who worry if they’re in the right care setting, and more.
- There is hope for telehealth reimbursements. Advocates such as NAHC and NHPCO are a great allies in this fight as both continue to lobby for change.
- The CY2021 proposed rule proposes telehealth be an allowable cost. This means that it could be included in the A&G area and those costs could be allocated out to the various disciplines.
- Many agencies had been locked out of facilities. This means they’ve had to deploy telehealth and other means of communications.
Home Health Coding & Billing
- LUPA rates have gone up because patients refused in home visits and agencies couldn’t access patients in facilities.
- PDGM and the pandemic occurring at once has been devastating for some agencies because they haven’t gotten a good handle on billing practices.
- Experts suggest agencies be on top of their billing now because when no-pay RAPs start, it may be very difficult to fix any problems.
- Agencies who are experiencing coding and billing issues now should consider working with a third-party home health & hospice revenue cycle management company who’s sole focus is on RCM.
Third Party Partnerships
- Now is a good time to evaluate your EMR partnerships to make sure they’re ready for new billing changes.
- Agencies are able to do more with less when the right technology is in place. Training is essential.
- Make sure you have solid partnerships and that your partners support your mission. Be sure they’re engaging with you to ensure compliance.
- It’s important to understand the relationship between all of your revenues and all of your costs. Be careful when cutting costs. Make sure the cuts don’t negatively affect your revenue.
- OASIS dictates revenue. Agencies should ensure OASIS accuracy and develop an accurate plan of care. With proper financial analysis, the plan of care identifies what your costs will be. The stronger the correlation between OASIS and the plan of care, the better off agencies will be.
Challenges and Successes
- Moving forward, the home health and hospice industry will see more transparency, focus, and ability to think forward. Leaning into technology is key to continued success.
- There’s no doubt that home care is a significant part of health care in the United States. The pandemic has elevated home care’s prominence and proven its value.
- Agencies must participate in the CMS rule-making process to continue to fight for change in home health and hospice. Get educated on the issues at hand, like the CY2021 home health proposed rule, and speak up.