The landscape of home health, hospice, and palliative care are constantly evolving, presenting providers with many difficulties such as staffing shortages and regulatory shifts. Although these are just a few barriers in this changing and challenging environment, there is still one approach that determines key to best practices.
Proactive, smart, triage enables providers to stay ahead of CMS regulations, achieve staffing success, and even thrive financially in this shifting environment. For many, embracing and mastering this strategy is crucial for healthcare sustainability in the face of several rising demands of 2024.
Rising Barriers for Health Organizations
One of the biggest challenges for 2024 home health, hospice, and palliative care providers was released with the final version of the Fiscal Year 2024 Hospice Wage Index and Payment Rate Update. Released by the CMS, the rules set a 3.1% increase to payments and raised the aggregate payment cap $33,494.01. It also includes updates with quality and compliance, health equity, higher levels of hospice care and spending on non-hospice services. Even though this final version increases hospice payments, most organizations worry it’s not enough to cover inflation and increased wages for caregivers–especially for those in rural areas.
Alongside this, another barrier to consider is the impact of regulatory oversight to quality of care. Regulations are necessary to supervise and standardize healthcare, and unfortunately, to weed out bad players. Although regulatory agencies aim to improve levels of care, their regulations often result in rule compliance rather than patient welfare (News–Medical).
If healthcare organizations are working tirelessly to meet continuously changing healthcare standards–how and when are they supposed to focus on patient care quality?
These regulatory bodies can feel like external authorities—not partners—that reduce the efficiency and heart of clinical work by frequently changing the work environment, adding extra administrative tasks, and causing unnecessary frustration and burnout (NIH).
Strategies to Win in 2024: The Five Best Practices
With so much to consider moving into the new year, smart triage acts as an innovative strategy, ready to help wherever there is a need. That’s why unveiling proactive triage programs in your organization is the key to alleviating staff burdens, enhancing patient satisfaction, and driving improved financial performance.
To help, we’ve highlighted five strategies that align with regulatory changes, patient needs and can help guide your team through the many challenges in 2024:
1. Implementing Proactive Triage
Proactive triage is a strategy that anticipates and addresses patient needs before they escalate into emergencies. It optimizes healthcare delivery and comes in many practical forms like weekend tuck-in calls, daily medication reminders and care provider surveys. In home-health and hospice, proactive triage is the gateway to preventative care, allowing timely interventions and personalized care to be at the center of your journey. This proactive approach ensures the appropriate level of care occurs before needs arise and to avoid after-hours calls and expensive ER visits.
2. Implementing Patient Engagement for Automation
Patient Engagement is the process of earnestly and actively involving patients within their healthcare journey. Through regular, automated education and check-ins, patients become more actively involved, developing a determined sense of ownership and empowerment. Healthcare providers who make an active effort in their patient relationships also benefit from this engagement. As patients grow their personal confidence, it leads to increased devotion to care plans, better self-management of chronic conditions and enhanced communication for all.
3. Data-Driven Efficiency
Leveraging data insights and patient call analytics can enhance operational efficiency and identify emerging payment opportunities for your organization. When you evaluate call data, you know what’s working, where to make improvements, and which protocols should be modified. Plus, knowing which communication channels are the most effective will help you optimize staffing and reduce costs:
- Call Data tracks your incoming patient call volume, busy days, times, and call length, so you can identify opportunities for streamlining workflows.
- Activity Data reveals the reason for a patient call and initiates space for your organization to respond with fast solutions.
- Patient Data identifies patient needs and proactively assists patients in managing their own care and lifestyle choices, reducing readmissions and ED visits.
4. Software Integration
To reduce application errors and add ease to administrative tasks, software should be used alongside your nurse’s expertise. Smart triage technology should easily integrate with electronic health records (EHRs) or cloud systems. This allows triage nurses and telehealth clinicians to fully document all patient interactions and send that information directly to providers. It builds stronger continuums of care, offers triage services at a reduced rate, and decreases the chance of charting errors and liability to patient health information exposure.
5. Smart Routing for Clinicians
While helps prevent patient call escalations, triage-backed care coordination platforms with mobile apps help tackle patient call volume by leveraging automation to match staff availability with patient needs. These technologies reduce staff idle time and increase the overall quality of care. Empowering nurses in the field to update their status in a mobile app, whether actively treating a patient, driving, or off-shift, organizes your incoming triage calls by only sending them to clinicians that are available. This frees up valuable time that can be allocated towards patient-centered care–ensuring the right provider is available when and where they are needed the most. Smart routing transforms healthcare organizations into more effective, efficient, and responsive caregivers who evolve with patient and provider needs.
Need Experience Management for Triage? Call CareXM Today!
CareXM is the kind of experienced, clinical partner you can count on to deliver the help you need to elevate your patient and caregiver experiences. Our mission is to help our partners effortlessly anticipate and respond to patient needs with triage technology backed by our on-demand triage team. Whether you need after-hours triage, our cost-saving hybrid triage solutions, or in-house triage call-center infrastructure, we help you flex and extend your care, so you reach patients in the moments they need help the most. From home health and hospice to health systems and more, CareXM will transform your patient approach to lower operating costs.