EHRs Help Providers Demonstrate Value-Based Hospice and Palliative Care

Electronic health record (EHR) systems are increasingly being tailored specifically to providers of end-of-life and seriously ill care as these industries move toward value-based care in the coming year ahead. Many hospice and palliative care providers have ramped up efforts to integrate electronic systems to stay competitive in a crowded marketplace and provide data-backed reporting for regulatory requirements.

Hospice and palliative care software provider Pallativo recently announced the launch of an electronic health records platform focused on the needs of those serving patients facing terminal illnesses or approaching the end of life. The EHR system is intended to help organizations manage clinical and office operations, including features such as patient intake and scheduling and billing management.

“This feature-rich EHR software was built for the clinician in hospice and palliative care,” said Pallativo’s CEO Jared Schneider. “Clinicians continually tell us that they’re able to spend more time focused on patients — and see their [Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems (CAHPS)] rating improve — because of the flexibility and increased productivity our product provides. More satisfied, productive caregivers mean greater staff retention and better outcomes for patients.”

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CAHPS surveys gauge patient and family experiences with their health care providers and insurance plans including hospice and palliative care providers, among others. The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) publicly reports CAHPS results Families and referral partners are paying closer attention to these scores when making decisions about hospices they will engage. These scores will soon become critical to negotiations with private payers for hospices planning to participate in the CMS’s Medicare Advantage Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) Model demonstration project, commonly called Medicare Advantage hospice carve-in, beginning in January 2021.

Pallitvo’s EHR system also aims to reduce time spent on documentation with features to track cost and revenue, as well as automated functions aimed at expediting payouts from Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance payers. Hospices have increasingly sought ways to demonstrate their value proposition to payers in anticipation of the approaching value-based care models. EHR solutions could aid hospice and palliative care providers in the ability to track patient care data around quality experiences and costs of services as part of the expressed intentions behind value-based care models aimed at increasing access to hospice services and reducing costs of end-of-life care.

EHR systems can provide scheduling features for patient intake and ongoing visits/assessment among hospice clinical and operational teams with the ability to manage care plans, medications and workflow remotely. Improving workflow has been vital to reducing industry-wide staff burnout and workforce shortages. Automated hospice-specific billing code deciphering is an additional feature some electronic health record keeping systems feature to boost efficiency and reduce time spent on what can be lengthy documentation processes.

Electronic medical record adoption in the hospice space is anticipated to grow, according to data from a national home and hospice care survey. However, data on the widespread EHR use among hospice providers is limited. According to the 2007 data, among home health and hospice providers nationwide with electronic medical record systems, 98% used components for recording patient demographics, and more than half used clinical decision support systems or computerized physician order entry.

Leveraging EHR could also enable proactive identification of patients that could benefit from serious illness and end-of-life care and promote standardized use of evidence-based screening and assessment tools, according to Lori Bishop vice president of palliative and advanced care for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

“Demonstration of value requires data on clinical outcomes and utilization, a process that is facilitated by an electronic health record (EHR) designed to track, analyze, and report these outcomes,” stated Bishop in a Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) blog. “Leveraging the EHR can enhance team communication, utilize clinical data to improve documentation efficiency, assess treatment efficacy, and allow for ease of data extraction for process and outcome measures.”

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