This article originally appeared in Health IT Outcomes.  To read the article on that site, please click here.

In this Q&A, Dave Crist, VP of Brother Mobile Solutions outlines the key challenges facing home health agencies today and how the latest mobile technologies can help.

Dave Crist

David Crist | President, Brother Mobile Solutions

Health care reform has put a spotlight on all facets of healthcare, including home health. Coupled with continued growth in the senior population and a growing demand for

care options that allow for independence and the ability to stay at home, this means home health and hospice providers are ideally poised to leverage improved technology to fill this demand.

Q: What is the current market landscape in home healthcare?

A: The current landscape presents many opportunities for home health agencies to streamline and improve care in this unique, mobile setting to address a range of issues:

  • Medicare reimbursement – new penalties for hospitals with high avoidable readmissions will put home health agencies in a position to step up to the plate and better ensure such readmissions do not occur.
  • Aging population – baby boomers recently reached retirement age, and as a result, the senior population is now the largest population. This puts a strain on the healthcare system in general as people are also now living longer, requiring more care over a longer continuum.
  • Rural healthcare – here we see more underinsured, uninsured and lower-income individuals than other populations, and a population that’s one of the fastest aging segments.
  • Nursing shortage – this will continue as baby boomers get older and the demand for home care increases.

Q: What are top regulatory and compliance issues impacting home healthcare providers?

A: ICD-10 – the deadline for all healthcare entities, including home health agencies, to convert from ICD-9 to ICD-10 coding is October 1, 2014.

  • Meaningful use Stage 2 – two notable requirements: 1) provide patients the ability to view online, download and transmit their health information within 36 hours after discharge from the hospital; and 2) automatically track medications from order to administration using assistive technologies in conjunction with an electronic medication administration record (eMAR). This means that, post-hospital, patients will need a way to keep record of their data, including printing information at home or at the site of their continued care.
  • EHR adoption – ARRA legislation includes financial incentives for the adoption and meaningful use of an EHR. As healthcare organizations vie for these incentives, home health agencies must be able to communicate with the spectrum of other organizations where patients have received treatment. This means having the right technology in place to access, share and document patient information at the home care site.
  • CMS guidelines – as of April 29, 2013 CMS posted its new proposed rule governing quality measures for Medicare Hospice, which will take effect October 1, 2013. This expands the requirements for collecting and reporting quality measures for hospice.

Q: What are some examples of technology that supports mobility for home health?

A: The idea of the “point of care” has moved beyond hospital walls. Wherever there is a patient to care for, that’s where the point of care now is. This includes the home health arena. Technologies that help increase mobility and streamline the care provided in-home include tablets and smartphones, which allow for the viewing of patient data on-the-go, barcode scanners which can help verify the accuracy of medication given against the identity of the patient, and mobile printers which enable caregivers to print a variety of assets from barcode labels to full page educational instructions and receipts.
Q: Where can I find more information about home healthcare?

A:

  • The National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) – nahc.org
  • Visiting Nurses’ Association (VNAA) – vnaa.org
  • Home Healthcare Nurses’ Association – hhna.org
  • American Association for Homecare – aahomecare.org

 

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