Delta Connect Blog

Thank You Home Health and Hospice Nurses

Posted by Crystal Parks on May 6, 2015 3:27:06 PM


We would like to recognize the important role home health and hospice nurses play in delivering high-quality, affordable care to elderly and disabled patients in their home. They change the lives of their patients for the better every day and we cannot thank them enough for what they do.

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) and its affiliate the Home Healthcare Nurses Association (HHNA) have launched the fourth annual Nurse Recognition Program. NAHC along with HHNA is currently accepting nominations for its Nurse Recognition Program.  The program recognizes one nurse from each state and one of those 50 nurses will be chosen as Home Care & Hospice Nurse of the Year.

NAHC and HHNA will announce the Nurse of the Year at the NAHC annual Meeting & Exposition, which will take place October 28 – October 30, 2015, in Nashville, TN.  The nurses will be highlighted in CARING, NAHC’s award winning magazine.

We urge home health and hospice agencies that are NAHC members to submit registered nurse nominees to represent their states. To nominate a nurse for the nurse recognition program please click here.

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Topics: National Nurses Week

2015 Home Health Final Rule Change Request Issued by CMS

Posted by Crystal Parks on May 4, 2015 9:38:35 AM


In Change Request 9119, CMS provides clarifications and revisions to policies regarding physician certification and recertification for patient eligibility for Medicare home health services in the CY 2015 HH PPS final rule (published on November 6, 2014). 

CMS included revisions that clearly state the timeframe requirements for performing a face-to-face encounter and that the certifying physician must document the date of the encounter. 

CMS also included language requiring a physician in an acute/post-acute setting that certifies home health services for a patient, but will not follow the patient after discharge from the acute/post-acute facility, to identify the community physician who will follow the patient after discharge.

The CY 2015 HH PPS final rule eliminated the narrative requirement for physician face-to-face visits and required therapy reassessments every 30 calendar days, rather than every 14 calendar days as originally proposed.

The implementation date for the changes outlined in Change Request 9119 is May 11, 2015. 

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Topics: CMS, Face to Face, HHPPS

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

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