07 Sep Streamlining EVV for Home Health Agencies
Examining Your Electronic Visit Verification Tools and Readiness
If you already know about EVV, the 21st Century Cures Act, and the various implementation deadlines across many states, then you know the importance of a strong implementation plan in your own agency. If EVV is new to you, here’s a short explainer. Since EVV of course stands for “Electronic Visit Verification,” when we talk about EVV, we are talking about the technology, policies, and procedures that agencies use to track and verify employees’ work. You might assume it’s just like a timecard for punching in and out of work — but EVV should be so much more.
Because most caregivers and aides go alone to patients’ homes without an immediate supervisor present, we need ways to confirm where they go, which patients they see, and what time they arrive and leave. We to need collect that data and report to the organizations that need it, like our agency admins, insurance companies, and Medicare.
It’s always smart to take a good look at your EVV system. For many, on January 1, 2023, a law went into effect that required every state to set up an EVV software system to verify all Medicaid home health and personal care. It is up to each state to establish their own rules. Due to the obvious administrative burdens and technology requirements, some states are behind the curve. Now more than ever, it’s a great time to review your EVV system. Not only should you ensure that the system is compliant, but you could also find ways to make it more efficient. Gone are the days of paper timesheets and medical records. If your agency hasn’t yet, it is time to automate and do away with the archaic practice of operating your agency on paper.
The importance of eliminating manual entries
Do you enjoy typing out your name and your address with those tiny keys on your phone? No doubt your nurses find it frustrating as well, especially when they’re on the go and have patients who urgently need their attention. If employees type in (or thumb in) the time and location of their work, then errors are extremely likely. Back in the day, a typical office could waste hours correcting wrong entries. Now there is a better way, and it’s the same GPS technology that lets you pull up directions. Your agency’s EVV policy should require all employees to download a mobile app, generally made available by your EVV software system provider (and there are quite a few on the market, some even provided by the state). That app will use GPS to detect when they have reached the patient’s home address. Some EVV platforms even allow the agency’s management to customize a distance (say, 25 feet away from the front door) at which point it automatically clocks the employee’s time and attendance.
In addition, since your employees are traveling to patients’ homes, they need a way to track their mileage and travel time. That means the ideal EVV system integrates within your home health software, and subsequently with your payroll.
Integrate timekeeping with documentation
A solid electronic visit verification system brings so much more than just clocking in and out. Besides timekeeping, your EVV system should include safety information, alerts for delayed or missed visits, patient records, and documentation. Medicare and insurance companies require this information to process reimbursement. Since you need to collect and report anyway, it’s smart to combine these functions into a single mobile-ready EVV platform.
Unlike timekeeping, documentation will often require some amount of manual entry, but you can streamline and save time by providing pre-set entries they can select. For example, you could give a list of Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and let them check off which ADLs occurred during their shift. Additionally, you could add the option to designate the level of support: “hands-on,” “standby,” or “independent” with the click of a menu button.
Nurses and caregivers could also take a picture of a cut, bruise, or rash, and upload the photo to the patient’s medical record. Some home health software with EVV apps will even allow aides to record a voice memo. This feature can be invaluable for caregivers whose first language isn’t English, and who might struggle with English spelling.
As always, whatever the caregiver uploads to an EVV system is protected health information, so HIPAA laws do apply. Make sure your agency acquires a HIPAA-compliant EVV software that uses encryption.
One of the biggest headaches with running an agency is dealing with insurance and Medicare. Hours that could be spent at the patient’s bedside are wasted on coding and paperwork. That said, just because some long-term care companies still use fax machines, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck in the dark ages.
With a good number of technologically sound EVV systems out there, you should be able to generate invoices with the click of a button. The same goes for documenting care, the kinds of data that insurance carriers need to approve a reimbursement. At the end of the week, after your employees have finished uploading their notes, your EVV should automatically compile all the relevant data into simple, legible reports. You take a few minutes to double-check each patient’s invoice to make sure there are no errors, and then you click ‘send.’ It’s that simple, and if it isn’t in your agency, then now is the time to consider making it that simple (and ultimately for compliance purposes, you will have to implement a system that features these capabilities).
On a related note, in order for your invoicing system to work, it must be integrated with QuickBooks or whatever accounting system you use to keep track of revenue. If your current EVV system does not have automated billing, then you really must look for an alternative solution.
Look at EVV Implementation as an Opportunity
Depending on where your agency operates, your state’s requirements for EVV may have recently changed (learn more about electronic visit verification aggregators by state, by viewing the state by state guide to EVV software systems). Even if the regulations seem very rigorous, don’t despair. Think positive by seeking out best practices and technologies that make EVV better, smoother, and stress-free. Rather than lament over EVV as just another burden, look at EVV as an opportunity to move your agency onto the cutting edge of technology, and into a future of more efficient, reliable, and compliant operations.
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A strong software system for home health assists forward thinking agencies in EVV compliance and other regulatory issues. With a simple user interface at its core that features integrated EVV functionality in many states, Alora was voted easiest to use home health software in Software Advice’s Reviewer’s Choice awards, and additionally was awarded “Outstanding customer support” recognition.