The start of a new year presents an ideal opportunity to review several key operational areas for your home health care agency. With the onslaught of medical reviews and new federal mandates, agencies must continue to function efficiently in order to provide the necessary services to their clients, while also dealing with the prospect of ever-shrinking profit margins. As you continue to plan for the year ahead, take time to review the following:
1) Review of referral sources and relationships
You may think that you know where your referrals are coming from, but does your data support that assumption? Which hospitals, medical practices, community agencies and organizations actually refer to your agency? More importantly, which ones are not?
Have you met with your referral sources within the past six months? Don’t just drop by with a cookie tray; schedule an appointment with the individuals directly responsible for referrals to your agency. Give them a summary of any referral information that you can provide via your software, including number of referrals, average length of time on service, types of services, positive outcomes, etc.
What does your agency do that might set you apart from competitors? Be sure to include that information. Do you provide care to specialty populations like pediatrics, persons with memory loss, newborns, etc.? Are there providers in your area that are not referring to your agency? Do you know why? Can you develop a strategy to help you reach those potential referral sources?
2) Training needs for staff
Has your staff been fully trained on the updated Home Health Conditions of Participation, including the new guidelines for home health aide services?
3) Contract review and renegotiation
Consider what leverage you have to renegotiate existing contracts. Some relevant questions:
What are your contracting options?
Do you serve a significant portion of their enrollees?
Could any other provider offer them the same level of quality and outcomes?
Do most of your patients or residents have their insurance?
4) Billing and accounts receivable management solutions
Some relevant questions:
Does your EHR talk to your billing software?
Does your billing software work efficiently?
Is that billing software user friendly? And does it give you the information that you need to successfully manage your revenue cycle process?
Has your software effectively addressed the changes in the updated conditions of participation?
Are you ready for the implementation of Electronic Visit Verification (EVV)?
5) Community engagement
What is your agency doing for the community? Remember, the community is also a source of referrals for your agency. Some relevant questions:
Are you involved with any local health fairs, health assessment days, etc.?
Do you provide complimentary blood pressure checks on a regular basis at a community location such as churches, senior centers or libraries?
Do you offer a speaker’s bureau or presentation on a caregiver or wellness topic for area organizations?
Do you have a website?
Do you write articles or blogs for your own website or others?
Do you receive testimonials from patients or families who have been helped by your agency? If so, can you include those in your presentations, ads or information that you share with referral sources?
Although an operational assessment of your agency can be done at any time, now is an excellent time to examine your agency’s operations and in particular how your processes might impact collection of revenue.