Home Health & Hospice

Weekly roundup

Homecare Insider, April 18, 2016

3 HHAs make Fortune’s 20 best list

Bad actors and poor working conditions grab a lot of attention in homecare, but not all. Three home health agencies made the list of Fortune’s “20 Best Workplaces in Health Care,” posted on Fortune’s website last week. The HHAs that made the cut among healthcare organizations were:

  • Encompass Home Health and Hospice, of Dallas, Texas, second overall on the survey. Encompass has 8,140 employees and 230 sites.
  • Preferred Home Health Care & Nursing Services, of Eatontown, New Jersey, No. 3 on the list, which has 167 employees in 14 locations.
  • Great Lakes Caring, of Jackson, Michigan, 18th on the roster, with 22 locations and 1,376 employees.

The list, which included companies of all sizes, was compiled by Great Place to Work Institute, an executive coaching and culture consulting services provider to businesses, non-profits and government agencies. The survey was based on employees’ ratings of factors such as organizationwide communication, ethical management, rewards, and whether workers were provided the resources and equipment to do their job.

Source: Fortune

Join our home health book review group!

HCPro is seeking enthusiastic home health administrators and directors, clinical supervisors, staff educators, and coding and billing experts to join an ad-hoc group interested in reading and reviewing prepublication drafts of books and training materials in your areas of interest and expertise.

Our editors will send you periodic emails listing upcoming projects available for outside review. If you’re interested, just let us know. We’ll send reviewing guidelines and give you an idea of our timeframe. If it works for you, we’ll send the draft chapters as they’re available, and a printed copy of the book when it’s complete. In addition, you will be recognized as a reviewer inside the printed book. We might also ask for your feedback on topics in your area of expertise.

Please have a minimum of five years of home health experience and be in an educational, supervisory, or leadership role within your organization.

For more information or to sign up as a reviewer, please send an email including your areas of interest and expertise to Tami Swartz at tswartz@hcpro.com.

It's not an easy conversation—for a variety of reasons

Almost all physicians who treat Medicare beneficiaries think end-of-life and advance care planning conversations are important, but many of them report significant barriers to having these discussions with those for whom they care, and 46% report that they frequently or sometimes feel unsure of what to say, according to a new poll from the Cambia Health Foundation.

Although 99% of the physicians surveyed said it is important that healthcare providers have conversations about advance care planning with their patients, only 14% of responding physicians reported billing Medicare for an advance care planning conversation since reimbursement began.

For many, the obstacles to initiating advance care planning conversations are more practical than cultural:

  • Only 29% said their practice or healthcare organization has a formal system for assessing patients’ end-of-life wishes and goals for care; 71% reported indicated they had no any formal training on talking with patients and their families about end-of-life care.
  • 40% said there is no place in their electronic health records that indicates whether or not a patient has an advance care plan, or said they are unsure.
  • Among organizations that do have a place for advance care plan in the EHR, 31% of the respondents said it does not allow them to see the contents of the plan.

The poll also found that practitioners who had formal training in end-of-life discussions with patients were more likely to conduct these discussions. Those who worked in practices that had a formal system for addressing patients’ end-of-life wishes were more likely to have had these conversations and to have billed Medicare for them this year.

The survey included responses from 736 primary care and specialist physicians (oncologists, pulmonologists, and cardiologists) in all 50 states.

Source: Cambia Health Foundation

SCA launches credentialing, certification for chaplains in healthcare

The Spiritual Care Association (SCA) was launched last week, aiming to provide education and career paths in spiritual care in healthcare, thereby raising chaplaincy to a more standardized, rigorous, and visible profession. The SCA is the first multidisciplinary, international professional membership association for spiritual care providers, according to an SCA press release. It establishes evidence-based quality indicators, scope of practice, and a knowledge base for spiritual care in healthcare.

The association will offer:

  • A new credentialing and certification process for professional chaplains to include objective, evidence-based knowledge and clinical competence, as required in other health care disciplines. The requirements are the first in the field to include objective, evidence-based knowledge and demonstrated clinical competence, as is required in other healthcare disciplines.
  • A learning center featuring online courses to provide academic study for Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) and continuing education for interested audiences, such as chaplains, clergy, doctors, nurses, and social workers.
  • An advocacy platform for mobilizing individuals and organizations at grassroots, national, and international levels for the advancement of the spiritual care agenda, such as greater reimbursement for professional chaplaincy services.

The SCA is a nonprofit affiliate of the Health Care Chaplaincy Network, and is based in York and Los Angeles.

Source: Spritual Care Association

MedPAC: Nix therapy as a payment factor in home health PPS

Use and growth of home health benefit has varied substantially due to changes in coverage and payment policies, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) states in “Home health care services: Assessing payment adequacy and updating payment,” in its updated Report to the Congress: Medicare Payment Policy, released last month.

The commission recommends that Medicare eliminate the use of therapy as a payment factor in the home health prospective payment system (PPS) beginning in 2018. MedPAC and other groups’ reviews of utilization trends suggest that this feature of the PPS “may create financial incentives that distract agencies from focusing on patient characteristics when setting plans of care,” the report states. “Eliminating therapy as a factor would base home health payment solely on patient characteristics, a more patient-focused approach to payment.” 

Source: MedPAC