The final rules have been issued by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) governing home health agencies under Medicare and Medicaid that involve a mix of manual and electronic informational and record-keeping provisions, along with various streamlining requirements that assist home health providers.
For example, agencies are hoped to provide patients and caregivers written information over the upcoming visits, treatments administered, medication instructions, instructions for particular care that a sufferer or caregiver performs, and a home health agency clinical manager’s name and contact information.
All sufferers have the right to get their clinical information—in hard copy or electronic form—involving the care plan and free of charge, with records available within 4 business days.
“An integrated communication system” is also being required by new rules to make sure patient requirements are met, care coordination among providers is in place, and there is active communication between a patient’s physician and an agency.
Moreover, home health agencies are being required by CMS to have “a data-driven, agency-wide quality assessment and performance improvement program that continuously determines and improves agency care for all sufferers at all times.” Standard infection controls also are mandated.
Mindful of varied level of the health IT capabilities among the home health agencies, electronic signatures for record authentication is being allowed by CMS, but didn’t agreed to the requests that providers maintaining clinical records electronically can scan signature documents and then ruin paper copies.
CMS pointed out in the final rules, “While we understand that home health agencies might desire to ruin paper copies of signature documents in case to decrease physical storage space, we consider that maintaining the original, signed paper documents is significant for purposes of authentication of the documents.”
Whereas, CMS accepted that electronic audit trails might be beneficial for few agencies, they shouldn’t be a minimum requirement for entire agencies “because there is more than one way for a home health agency to acquire the targets accomplished by electronic audit trails.”
A 5-year period has also been imposed by CMS for retaining records but appreciated that few agencies need a longer retention period. The final rule, to be released on the day of January 13, is available here.