Robust Data Collection Becoming a Must for Hospice Agencies

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

Hospice Software Reduces PaperDespite the collection of OASIS data by home health agencies for the past decade, no similar program exists for hospice agencies participating in Medicare. But that’s about to change.

Even CMS admitted that OASIS, driven by congressional mandate as part of a move to a prospective payment methodology, placed an undue burden on home health agencies. With that in mind, the data-collection requirement for hospice has been moving at a more-cautious pace as the need for hospice services continues to increase.

Starting in January, CMS will begin a voluntary program among hospices to report quality data related to pain management and one other measure of the hospice’s choosing.

But by fiscal year 2014, hospices that fail to report quality data will have their reimbursements reduced by 2 percent annually, according to The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC).

This is the latest in a number of significant changes the hospice industry has undergone in the past few years and underscores the need to move away from paper-based data collection systems.

In the recent past, hospices were paid a certain amount for a day of care. Then questions were put forth over where the care took place and the specific disciplines involved in that care. Another change involved the length of time spent with the patient in 15-minute increments. And earlier this year, a face-to-face encounter and attestation are required for the third and subsequent benefit periods to continue to receive reimbursement.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) developed the 61-question Family Evaluation of Hospice Care that surveys family members about the care a decedent received from a hospice. First administered in 2004, the survey is based on patient-focused and family-centered medical care.

CMS has been collecting quality data on hospices since 1983 and changed to the Quality Assessment and Performance Improvement (QAPI) standard in 2005. But it’s clear that the hospice industry will be moving to a system that links outcomes with pay, similar to the changes that are occurring other acute, post-acute and primary care settings.

Hospice has reached its tipping point on the importance of collecting data in a consistent manner and reporting it to CMS and other agencies and technology like hospice software can allow agencies to do this more easily. The question is: Are you ready for the change?

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