Home Health & Hospice

Weekly roundup

Homecare Insider, March 28, 2016

HHS begins Phase 2 HIPAA audits
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has launched Phase 2 audits of entities subject to federal privacy laws—including home health agencies. In Phase 2, OCR will review the policies and procedures that entities and their business associates have in place to comply with requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

The Phase 2 audit process includes:
•    Verification of covered entities’ address and contact information via email to the entities and their business associates, requesting this information. Entities that don’t respond to this request could be subject an audit.
•    A detailed screening questionnaire that will be sent to verified entities, intended to create audit pools representing a range of healthcare providers, health plans, and other covered entities. A random sample of entities in the pool will be selected for audits.

During Phase 2, OCR will conduct both desk audits and on-site audits. Audit timelines are posted on the OCR website. If an audit report indicates a serious compliance issue, OCR may initiate a compliance review to further investigate.

Source: HHS, Home Health Care News

Home health utilization, state by state
Use of home health services is all over the map, but the outlook is decidedly mixed, according to a Healthcare Market Resources report released last week. Utilization increased slowly and steadily, from close to 7.7% in 2005 to just over 9% in 2011, but then dropped in 2012-2014. 

Future growth could be hobbled by increased regulatory burdens, including therapy recertifications, the face-to-face requirement, and more Additional Development Requests. However, the forecast may brighten because pay-for-performance efforts, such as accountable care organization (ACO) models and mandatory bundled payment demonstration for joint replacement, may increase home health utilization.

Agencies can calculate the utilization for their particular service area by dividing patients served into the Medicare fee-for-service enrollees. Both of these metrics can be found in the Revenue Impactors Report, the Healthcare Market Resources report states.

Source: Healthcare Market Resources

Congress reauthorizes Older Americans Act
Following the lead of the U.S. Senate—albeit seven months later—the House of Representatives last week passed S.192, the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2015. S. 192 provides new support for modernizing multipurpose senior centers, promotes self-management of chronic disease self-management and falls prevention, and strengthens provisions for elder justice and legal services.

S. 192 amends the OAA to require the Director of the Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs to collect and analyze best practices related to responding to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation in long-term care facilities, and publish a report of such best practices.

The bill makes it a duty and function of the administration to:

  • Provide information and technical assistance to states, area agencies on aging, and service providers, in collaboration with relevant federal agencies, on delivering efficient person-centered transportation services, including across geographic boundaries
  • Identify model programs and provide information and technical assistance to the same entities to support modernization of multipurpose senior centers
  • Provide technical assistance to and share best practices with states, area agencies on aging, and Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) on how to collaborate and coordinate services with health care entities in order to improve care coordination for individuals with multiple chronic illnesses.

The reauthorization extends through fiscal year 2018.

Source: Congress.gov

HCCD offers scope of practice for chaplains
A new evidence-based scope of practice rovides a framework for spiritual care specialists, other providers, and administrators to define quality spiritual care in healthcare settings. The core competency set was released earlier this month by the HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (HCCN), a nonprofit healthcare organization that provides spiritual care-related information and resources, and professional chaplaincy services.

The recommendations build on HCCN’s release last month of the first comprehensive evidence-based quality indicators for spiritual care. The 18 indicators include reducing spiritual distress, increasing client satisfaction, and facilitating meaning-making for clients and family members.

The scope of practice and associated competency set outlines the skills that all professional healthcare chaplains should attain, the HCCN stated. The document also articulates ways for chaplains to help their organizations meet these indicators and “effectively and reliably produce quality spiritual care.”

A growing body of research shows patients’ desire for spiritual care when they are ill or dying, and the impact of such support on important medical outcomes, costs, and the patient experience, according to the HCCN. Spiritual care is increasingly being incorporated into palliative and hospice care as well as into treatment plans for various diseases.

Source: HCCN