Home Care Ready for Opportunities in 2014

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Karen Utterback By Karen Utterback 
Former Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, McKesson (Retired)

Home Care Ready for Opportunities in 2014The home care industry is ideally suited to help hospitals, health systems and providers monitor patients with chronic conditions so they can maintain or even improve their health. Your home care services will be vital in 2014 as penalties stiffen for 30-day hospital readmissions and more conditions are added to the penalties.

And the value of hospice and palliative care cannot be emphasized enough as more patients deal with chronic pain or terminal conditions.

The highest profile change that will take place in 2014 is the changeover to ICD-10 code sets on October 1. At the same time, CMS has proposed changes to OASIS documentation. We are targeting release updates to accommodate both ICD-10 coding and OASIS C1 documentation well in advance of that deadline.

Fiscal concerns about the cost of healthcare likely will impact our industry. Case mix creep remains a concern, as does rate rebasing that begins in 2014. The market basket reduction is no more, but productivity adjustments are foreseen in 2015. Any of these changes could lower Medicare reimbursement for your services, so you should monitor potential regulatory or reimbursement actions closely in 2014.

Home care agencies are not eligible providers in the federal EHR Incentive Program, but being able to share data with hospitals and providers becomes important as more hospitals and providers achieve Stage 2 Meaningful Use. Despite the announced delay in Stage 2 and Stage 3, your agency must be prepared to share data when your partners are.

Hospitals, health systems, accountable care organizations and patient-centered medical homes will continue to look to home care agencies to help with care transitions, one of many areas where agencies shine. If you are not looking for partnership opportunities in the areas you serve, you must start now.

The home health and hospice industries truly are on the front lines of patient care. Your clinicians, therapists and aides make a difference every day in the lives of patients to enable them to recover from hospitalizations, rehabilitate, manage chronic conditions, age in place and die with dignity.

Regardless of the regulatory changes and opportunities your agency will deal with in 2014, that mission will remain at the heart of everything you do.

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