By Charlie Batutis, Connectivity/Technology Senior Product Manager, Change Healthcare
Besides providing quality clinical care, how does a home health or hospice organization differentiate itself from competitors and become the first choice among referral sources? The answer is speed—the time required to process and accept a referral so care can begin.
Concord Regional VNA in Concord, NH, reduced its costs, improved workflow and sped up the referral process by reducing faxed documents and increasing electronic continuity of care (CCD) documents. Concord Regional VNA, a subsidiary of Capital Region Health Care, uses Change Healthcare Home Health Connect and Change Healthcare Hospice Connect to receive CCDs securely from referral sources, receiving more comprehensive information about the patient that is better organized and easier to find than faxes.
Moving away from faxes
Although 92% of respondents to the 2017 Change Healthcare Organization Opportunities and Challenges Executive Survey said they are still using fax machines, only 27% of home health organizations expect to be using faxed/mailed documents in three years. More than three-quarters of organizations use e-mail or direct messaging today versus one-third in 2014.
Concord Regional VNA serves 41 communities in central New Hampshire, with an average daily census of 1,200. The organization offers home health, hospice, palliative care (as part of Capital Region Palliative Care and Hospice), personal home services and wellness programming.
Most referrals to Concord Regional VNA were received through a fax server and then manually entered into Homecare and Hospice. The referring hospital would print and load an average of 25 pages per referral into the scanner and transmit to Concord Regional VNA’s fax server. An intake clerk then would manually transpose information from the scanned file into the patient’s admission record, which took time and potentially introduced errors.
Paper-based referral processes have a number of disadvantages. A paper process becomes the bottleneck in context of electronic sending/receiving systems on both sides of the referral process. Even traditional paper faxing/receiving can be cost ineffective in context with the cost of paper, toner, inefficient manual operation, and rescanning.
Efficiency, workflow improvements
Home Health Connect and Hospice Connect offer direct messaging functionality. The secure e-mail application has many of the familiar trimmings of a standard e-mail client: an inbox, a sent items folder, the ability to compose new messages to fellow direct secure messaging users and the ability to attach a variety of supported file formats.
However, the real difference is that direct messaging (based upon the industry’s direct secure messaging standard) is an application that is designed to support the secure exchange of protected health information (PHI) with other direct messaging clients based upon common standards (such as HL7) that facilitate easy system consumption and/or interpretation.
Referral sources using well-equipped EHR software with a capable direct secure messaging utility can quickly generate referral documents and transmit them securely and electronically with a few clicks.
After Concord Regional VNA implemented Connect direct messaging, the referral process on both sides improved. The organization has continued to reap the benefits of this new approach as its overall census continues to grow.
These benefits include:
- Efficiency and productivity: Increase in the number of referrals processed from 8,000 to 9,200 annually without any addition to office staff
- Better traceability for incoming and historical referrals
- Reduction in physical storage space to manage paper archives
- Improved efficiency for office staff by eliminating up to 15 minutes of follow-up per referral
- Reduction in printing cost by saving in paper and toner for the organization and physicians’ offices
By using Connect, Concord Regional VNA makes it as easy as possible for hospitals and providers to refer patients to the organization, helping to save time and money in the process.
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