Delta Connect Blog

National Healthcare Decisions Day 2015

Posted by Allison Kristofco on Apr 16, 2015 9:20:00 AM


Since April 16, 2008, National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) has encouraged Americans to take action in regards to advance healthcare planning.  Their goal is to inspire, educate, and empower the public about the importance of planning ahead and expressing their wishes for their future healthcare needs.  By increasing public education, people are better able to make decisions for their future necessities.  

NHDD also helps the masses understand that advance healthcare decision-making includes more than just living wills, and that there are things that they can do today to plan for their future.  National Healthcare Decisions Day aims to provide information and tools so the public feels confident enough to express their wishes with family, friends, and healthcare professionals - - do they want to receive home healthcare, be placed in a nursing home or assisted living facility?

“National Healthcare Decisions Day is an important day of awareness and education, focused on encouraging everyone, including those who are healthy and in the prime of their life, to think about and document care treatment preferences before a crisis,” said J. Donald Schumacher, National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) President/CEO.  Encouraging, and adding to, the conversation about advance healthcare planning will yield positive results for all people, young and old.

The NHDD initiative also encourages healthcare providers and facilities to respect patient wishes, whatever they may be.  Healthcare facilities are to participate in flagship venues to engage the public and to spread the word about advance healthcare planning.  The goal is for information to be readily available so the public can learn about the benefits of advance healthcare planning and how they can take action.

National Healthcare Decisions Day takes place in all 50 U.S. states and has occurred annually since its founding in 2008.  By providing clear, concise, and consistent information on healthcare decision-making, NHDD is able to educate anyone and everyone who has access to their materials.  These simple, free, and uniform public education tools streamline the 50 independent, but coordinated, state and local events that take place across America on April 16th each year. 

To take action and put advance directives in place, one needs documentation, a “healthcare power of attorney.”  This documentation identifies the person who has been selected to be the voice for your healthcare decisions if you cannot speak for yourself.  This healthcare power of attorney will make the decisions based on the wishes that have been identified in the Advance Directive, which does not expire and can be updated as needed.  In the states that recognize this documentation, families and healthcare providers cannot override or change the living will or the agent’s previously made decisions.  A healthcare agent can be anyone, but they must be over the age of 18.  Typically, a family member or close friend is chosen.  A living will is also highly recommended to outline further medical treatments and procedures.

This National Healthcare Decisions Day, take action and ensure that the desired actions are taken in your future.  Advance healthcare planning isn’t only for the elderly or sick, it is for everyone, young and old, and is beneficial for all.

Click here to find out more.

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Topics: healthcare

CMS' Home Health Five Star Rating System

Posted by Allison Kristofco on Apr 14, 2015 2:00:00 PM


Beginning in July of 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will be implementing a star rating system for home health agencies in the U.S.  This rating system will appear on the Home Health Compare (HHC) website and will be available to consumers at no charge. Although this information is already available online, this star rating system will summarize the current measures for health care provider performance and will allow consumers to compare data more quickly. Currently, visitors to the site can scroll through different categories and view check marks and comments in different areas of the home health agency’s offerings. The star rating system will streamline HHC, and will allow consumers to make the best decisions possible for their health care.

Medicare-certified home health agencies will be potentially eligible to receive a star rating.  Currently, there are more than 10,500 home health agencies in the United States, and approximately 12 million people are receiving home health care.  

The HHC Star Rating will include 9 of the 22 (10 of the 27) currently reported process and outcome quality measures. To start, Home Health Compare has two categories of measures: Process measures and Outcome measures. These measures were selected due to their matching of the following specific criteria:

  • The measure should apply to a substantial proportion of agencies, and there must be sufficient data to report on the quality of the agencies.
  • The measure should show a reasonable amount of variation among home health agencies, and agencies should be able to show improvement over time.
  • Each measure should have high clinical relevance.
  • Measures should be stable and not show substantial random variation over time.

Process measures center around the routine procedures that agencies perform and the success of these procedures. The Process measures that have been selected are:

  1. Timely Initiation of Care
  2. Drug Education on all Medications Provided to Patient/Caregiver
  3. Influenza Immunization Received for Current Flu Season

Outcome measures focus on the improvement of patient well-being in various categories. Since many patients who require home health care need assistance with everyday living activities, these categories are high in importance for agencies.  The Outcome measures that have been chosen are:

  1. Improvement in Ambulation
  2. Improvement in Bed Transferring
  3. Improvement in Bathing
  4. Improvement in Pain Interfering with Activity
  5. Improvement in Shortness of Breath
  6. Acute Care Hospitalization

CMS will provide agencies with the opportunity to preview their HHC Star Ratings before they are made available to the public each quarter. Agencies will have the ability to submit evidence if they believe that the data used to calculate their measures were either inaccurate or incomplete.

HHC will continue to help consumers find the best possible health care provider for their specific needs. Changes will be implemented as needed for the star rating system as it continues to move forward. 

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Topics: Home Health Compare, home health agencies

Home Health ICD-10 Readiness [Infographic]

Posted by Crystal Parks on Apr 10, 2015 8:30:00 AM



ICD-10 is coming. Despite smaller organizations and physician's practices wanting a delay, CMS is sticking with the October 1, 2015 compliance date.   

Is your home health organization taking the steps needed to be ICD-10 compliant?  By this time, your organization should have a strategy in place to comply with the new diagnosis coding. You should have your ICD-10 compatible software installed and be testing with your applicable vendors and payers. Staff should have already started or will soon be starting to receive training on ICD-10.  

Organizations shouldn't be hoping for another delay. Home health providers should be actively reviewing their project plan on a regular basis and crossing tasks off the list. 

The infographic below provides a high-level outline of what you need to be doing to be ready for ICD-10 on October 1, 2015.   

Visit the CMS ICD-10 website for the latest news and resources to help you prepare for the October 1, 2015, deadline.



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Topics: ICD-10

Home Health OASIS-C1/ICD-10 Data Item Set Approval Requested

Posted by Crystal Parks on Apr 2, 2015 10:23:28 AM

CMS is requesting approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for the OASIS data set to accommodate ICD-10. This new version of the OASIS is referred to as the OASIS/ICD-10 data item set.

The Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (PAMA) prohibited the Secretary from adopting ICD-10 prior to October 1, 2015. As a result, the OASIS-C1 data item set that was created mainly because of the need to enable the coding of diagnoses using the ICD-10 could not be implemented on October 1, 2014.  CMS then made interim changes to the OASIS-C1 data item set to accommodate the continuation of the ICD-9 diagnosis codes and this version of the data item set - OASIS-C1/ICD-9 - is to be used until the implementation of the ICD-10 coding on October 1, 2015.  

According to NAHC, the OASIS-C1/ICD-10 version is basically the OASIS-C1 with a few technical and typographical corrections and a new name.

Even though the OMB approval request for the OASIS-C1/ICD-10 is a technical requirement for CMS, it does provide another opportunity for home health agencies to submit comments on the data item set. Comments are due April 24, 2015.  

Providers may view the Federal Register notice here and the OASIS-C1/ICD-10 supporting documentation here


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Topics: ICD-10, OASIS C1

Latest MedPac Report provides new data on Home Health and Hospice

Posted by Crystal Parks on Mar 18, 2015 11:04:44 AM

MedPac released its latest report on Friday, March 13th.  The recommendations for home health and hospice are the same as previous years, which includes:

  • Recommendation for a per episode copay for home health episodes that are not preceded by hospitalization or post-acute care use.
  • Revision of the home health case-mix weight to no longer use the number of therapy visits as a payment factor but to instead rely on patient characteristics to set payment for therapy and non-therapy services.
  • Begin a two-year rebasing of home health rates and eliminate the market basket update.
  • Eliminate the update to the hospice payment rates for fiscal year 2016. 


The report also contained new data for both the home health and hospice industries.

Home Health

The number of home health agencies increased in 2013 by 302 agencies to a total of 12,613. There were almost 1,700 more agencies in 2013 than in 1997 and almost all the new agencies are for-profits.

The number of home health episodes declined by 2% from 2011 to 2013. MedPac sites several reason for the decline, which include:

  1. increased program integrity investigations
  2. implementation of the face-to-face documentation policy
  3. reduction in hospitalizations

Although hospitalization rates were not provided for 2013, MedPac reiterated that non-profit agencies have a lower hospitalization rate than for-profit agencies. 


Use of hospice services increased in 2013 among Medicare beneficiaries. Almost half (47.3%) of eligible Medicare beneficiaries elected hospice services. In 2013, 3,925 hospice provided care to Medicare beneficiaries, which is a 5.3% increase from 2012. The number of for-profit hospices increased while non-profit hospices decreased slightly from 1,318 in 2012 to 1,314 in 2013.  

MedPac anticipates that since the Affordable Care Act mandated quality reporting, reporting of the quality of hospice care is expected to be available in 2017 at the earliest. 

MedPac estimates that because of upcoming changes to hospice payment rates, the 2015 aggregate margin will be 6.6%, which would be a decrease from 10.1% in 2012.  

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Topics: Hospice, Home Health

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