Running a homecare agency is a tough job. With new regulations, ongoing changes to compliance requirements, and the day-to-day challenges of providing patient care, it can seem impossible to stay afloat, let alone grow your business.
Still, many homecare agencies are managing to keep their business on-track and thriving. We talked with some of our top performers to learn their tips and tricks for success. Check out their advice below.
Key #1 – Care about your caregivers – they are your greatest asset.
Good caregivers are hard to come by – don’t take them for granted!
When your aides work to provide patients with the highest quality care, they’re showing respect for you and your company. Do your best to give them the same respect in return.
There are simple ways to make a big difference in your employees’ work lives. Start by taking a step back and asking yourself a few questions:
- How much time are your aides spending on administrative tasks, like filling out paper timesheets and hand-delivering them, when they could be helping patients?
- Do your caregivers have opportunities to take on additional shifts?
- Are you paying them on time?
- Do you offer rewards or incentive programs to motivate them to do their best?
- Do you ever ask your aides for feedback?
- Are you flexible when they have requests?
Take an honest look at how you’re treating your caregivers. If you wouldn’t be happy working for you, then it could be time to make some changes.
After all, when your employees feel they are valued, they’re more likely to offer value back to you.
Key #2 – Get out of the weeds! (EVV can help.)
In the homecare industry, as in so many others, there’s a tendency to focus on everything – rather than take on one problem or area for improvement at a time. The most successful agencies use a workflow by exception process. This allows them to target their focus to the issues only, so they can keep their mind on the business – not in the business.
An easy way you can adopt this process is through agency management platforms with integrated electronic visit verification (EVV). You already know that EVV is mandatory for all homecare services by 2020, but you might be wondering how it can help you. With the correct approach, EVV – particularly integrated EVV – can bring real value to your business.
So, what’s the difference between traditional and integrated EVV?
Traditional EVV tracks arrival and departure times, requires comments detailing the type of care provided, and notes when a visit hasn’t been completed. Altogether, it serves as a monitoring tool that simplifies billing for providers, and lets payers know when the care being paid for is the same as that being delivered.
Say a visit is late, or a caregiver forgot to clock out. With EVV, you’ll see what’s happening in real time, so you can mend the issue right away – instead of letting it go unnoticed.
EVV also allows for reduced payroll processing time. With electronic clock-in/clock-out data, you can let those costly paper timesheets become a thing of the past.
Integrated EVV platforms take electronic efficiency a step further. Automated software that integrates with your existing management systems leave you better equipped to maximize your aides’ schedules and capabilities, avoid scheduling mixups, and ensure all-around compliance. With an integrated approach, visit data is automatically tied to scheduling, billing and compliance – connecting all aspects of your business.
An integrated EVV platform enables you to:
- Tighten aide location ranges and minimize their driving time.
- Avoid caregiver overlap and overtime scheduling.
- Manage caregiver certifications and member preferences.
- Ensure each patient receives the right care, from the right person.
With technology doing much of the administrative work for you, you can focus on making your business the best it can be.
Key #3 – For improved patient outcomes: observe, report and track.
A top way for your agency to stand out as a high-value provider is by improving patient outcomes and reducing hospitalizations. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but employing simple observation and reporting procedures can help in a major way.
Remember: your caregivers are your eyes and ears. They’re your windows into your patients’ health and the states of their homes. Empower your aides by teaching them what to look out for and the right questions to ask.
To start, here are a few tips to offer your caregivers:
- Check consistently for environmental hazards to minimize the risk of falls and hospitalizations. Loose railings, unstable chairs, dim lighting, long extension cords, and even throw rugs can be a danger to your patients.
- If your patient requires any daily prescriptions, check to see if they’re running low, before they run out.
- For patients with chronic health conditions, regular observations are key. If they have asthma, for example, simple questions such as “How’s your breathing today?” and taking notice of the home’s air quality can help prevent flare-ups.
Tools like HHAeXchange’s Care Pathways can help you and your aides monitor patient progress and deliver value-based care. Using the HHAeXchange mobile app, caregivers are automatically prompted at the time of clock-out with pre-defined questions regarding the patient’s condition. Caregivers can also add non-diagnosis-related observations in order to track changes such as a patient running low on medication, or a malfunctioning medical device. HHAeXchange will notify your agency immediately of negative changes in a patient’s health based on an aide’s response or observation, allowing you to take action right away.
Key #4 – Be proactive, especially when it comes to compliance.
Falling out of compliance puts your agency at risk of hefty fines, reduced referrals, and even bankruptcy.
Your business is at stake if anything slips through the cracks, so be proactive in ensuring you’re compliant at both the state and federal levels.
As you know, every state follows different regulations, and these rules tend to change often. An effective way to stay on top of these changes is by using homecare management software with built-in compliance monitoring. These dynamic tools take the administrative work out of your hands, and ensure compliance at the caregiver and visit level, as well as with broader regulations.
Thanks to today’s technology, adhering to compliance laws doesn’t need to be a time drain. For example, you can utilize EVV for real-time visibility into visit compliance, like timely starts and POC completion. Additionally, you can reduce opportunities for revenue leaks by tracking short or missed visits. Integrated EVV systems like HHAeXchange offer a pre-bill scrubbing process to ensure compliant claims. They also help with scheduling, making it easy to ensure caregivers meet all HR and training requirements before they’re scheduled for a shift.
Compliance starts with you, the employer. Set an example for the rest of your staff by approaching compliance as an integral part of company culture, rather than as a nuisance to check off a list. After all, the consistency that comes with setting solid homecare policies and procedures – and holding all parties accountable for following them – can benefit your agency on a core level.
Key #5 – Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Good communication is key to success in all relationships, and homecare is no exception.
Talk with your caregivers regularly, in the way that works best for them. Find out their preference – email, text or phone – and stick to it.
Invest in internal communication. Mass emails that aren’t tailored to individual groups tend to get ignored, so try for face-to-face interaction whenever possible. Consider assigning team leads to each department to help streamline communications and keep everyone on the same page. Organizing weekly meetings with these leaders can bring structure to your workflows and ensure the right information gets delivered to the right groups.
Communicate with your payers as well. Alert them to any changes in patient conditions and work together to guarantee that the proper care is being authorized and received. Payers will appreciate your diligence in tracking patient outcomes and will be happy to learn if you’re reducing hospital readmissions.
When it comes to communication, the key is to do it early – and often. In the homecare industry especially, no one likes surprises!
You work hard to serve some of the most vulnerable members of society. That’s why we want to do our part to simplify the homecare management process for you, and give you the tools you need to make optimal decisions.
To see how HHAeXchange can help your business, schedule a demo.