Kenyon HomeCare ConsultingGinny Kenyon, Author at Kenyon HomeCare Consulting (206) 721-5091

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5 Ways to Keep Documentation Training Fun

Unless you are coding at full accuracy and specificity, you are leaving money on the table. However, high reimbursements and steady cash flow are as much dependent on documentation skills as on coding skills.

After all, without being fed needed information, coders cannot reach maximum productivity levels. The answer is advanced education for nurses and other homecare clinicians. But often education on documentation, quite frankly, makes the eyelids heavy. Can’t documentation training be fun instead of tedious and sometimes really boring? Well, you can’t change the material, but here are 5 ways to get creative and make homecare documentation training enjoyable instead of depressing:Documentation Training

1. Establish Training-related Incentives

There are already negative consequences for those who skip training, fall asleep during training, or fail to implement “class lessons.” Pairing that up with some positive incentives is a good thing. Consider giving rewards to those who attend all training during a given month or year; having practice time and test at each session’s end (and the best score wins a prize); or even offering bonuses or paid time off for those who both attend the training and excel at documentation as a result.

2. Make the Sessions Fun With Theme Days

Throwing something completely unrelated to documentation into the mix can make it more fun. Attendees dress up for theme days, all wearing a matching color, donning unusual hats or dressed in jeans and a favorite movie t-shirt. Allow training to get them out of a uniform for the day. Those that dress can win things like gas cards. What homecare clinician doesn’t like a free gas card these days? Or you could issue training-day T shirts with themes like “Document Better” or “Love Your Coder” written on them.

3. Bring in a Fresh Face

No matter how good a teacher you are, sooner or later, your students will grow too accustomed to your voice, body language, and teaching style. Having the same teacher for OASIS, diabetes documentation, coding issues, or what have you is monotonous. Monotony is no virtue, so bring guest speakers once in a while to shake things up. It will expand your staff’s knowledge base and keep them awake at the same time.

4. Use Diverse Media Aids

The presence of a large chart, graph, or diagram at the front of the room can draw attention. And using short video clips can keep things interesting and often light-hearted if you throw in clips of something relative in pop culture at the time. A diversity of media technologies and visual aids helps with the attention span of clinicians.

5. Monitor Success and Connect it to Training

When all said and done, the agency needs to measure the ongoing efficacy and improvement in documentation post training. This will also guide who and what the focus should be for ongoing training sessions. Direct correlations should be drawn between such improvements since the last training session. Sharing with attendees how past training has been effective can make ongoing training easier. Make sure to connect the dots for staff and acknowledge those who made strides in improvement. Your agency can decide the best way to to so.

Conclusion

Documentation training is not optional, but it is crucial to homecare success and reimbursement. But keeping it “as fun as possible” for everyone can only improve results. To learn more about training opportunities provided by Kenyon HomeCare Consulting and how they can benefit both individuals on your staff and your whole organization, call us today at 206-721-5091 or fill out our online contact form

Experiencing A Leadership Vacancy In Your Agency?

Leadership

When a vacancy happens in a key leadership or management position, most agencies can cope for a month or two. However, without an interim professional, issues quickly arise and major initiatives go sideways. According to recruiters, it usually takes 5 to 6 months on average to find and fill a leadership position. And if the agency’s location is in a suburban or rural area, it takes even longer.

Most often either the void is filled temporarily with current staff or the duties are divided and spread around. This approach usually results in unintended consequences such as:

  • Employee burn-out decreasing productivity
  • Team member unrest resulting in employee turnover
  • Declining staff moral causing client dissatisfaction
  • Delay of business growth

Usually when things begin to go south, agencies begin to consider an interim executive to fill the gap between the loss of the leader and hiring a permanent replacement. Most agencies don’t realize that a leadership vacancy is the prime opportunity to complete a full organizational assessment. A vital role for any interim executive is to observe staff and suggest and implement necessary process adjustments. Also, it’s the perfect time to implement improvement plans when issues are found. Through experience, we typically discover most problems result from both process and staff issue.

How To Overcome Losing Homecare Managers

Losing a homecare manager can be significant to your agency. As humans, we’re wired for consistency, and nothing triggers negative emotions faster than abrupt change. Even when change isn’t shocking, it’s difficult to move forward after losing a manager. But, there are concrete steps to take to prepare for a smoother transition.

Surviving Homecare Manager LossHomecare Manager

Regardless the reason a manager leaves— voluntarily or involuntarily—the result is often a disgruntled staff. Here are five ways to transition successfully through the process:

Prepare for Change

Being prepared avoids the problems accompanying major change. Initially, develop a system of power distribution relying on a team of leaders, rather than one person. This allows your to proceed with daily operations.

This process includes an emergency plan. Determine exactly which steps you’ll take if a manager leaves. What tasks will be assigned to each team member? Will clients still be well-cared for? Work out the kinks proactively to avoid problems.

Guide the Conversation

In the midst of transition, talk flies and rumors spread. Get a handle on it before these rumors even start. Take charge by giving employees a clear explanation of what happened, assuring job security, and a future plan.

Regroup & Review

Change provides opportunity to evaluate where your agency stands. Use this time to evaluate goals, strengths and weaknesses, vision, values, policies and procedures, and operational systems. Once completed, you can start with a new manager knowing where you thrive and where you need help.

Ask for Help

Sometimes, agencies benefit from a step back and objective professional help. A consultant, or temporary homecare manager, can address operational, clinical, personnel, and financial challenges. Hiring the wrong person is expensive and time consuming, so consulting helps you hire the right person while improving operations. It’s helpful having fresh perspective in hectic times, which is why the advice of a seasoned home health consultant is invaluable.

Move Forward

Find, hire, and train new management using systems and goals from the time spent reevaluating your homecare agency. By following these guidelines, your successful transition is steps ahead and employees will be grateful.

Turn to Kenyon HomeCare Consulting after the Loss of a Homecare Manager

The professionals at Kenyon HomeCare Consulting are available to assist with each of the steps mentioned here. From helping you prepare for change to assisting with the hiring process, we’re the experts your agency needs. Schedule your free consultation to learn more.

Why Proper Reimbursement Depends on Coding Accuracy

As a homecare agency, you want focus on client care and not coding. Unfortunately, reimbursement is directly tied to correct, complete, and specific coding.

“Quality care is far more important than entering alphanumeric characters,” you might think. True, but only coding accuracy gets the reimbursement you are entitled to receive to provide quality care. And only by ensuring a healthy bottom line can you thrive in the industry and deliver care that improves quality of life.

4 Ways Coding Affects Bottom LineCoding Accuracy

There are many ways coding impacts financial health; some direct, some indirect. Here are important things to know coding and finances:

  1. A single coding error can result in denial by CMS. Even when you correct and successfully resubmit, payment can be significantly delayed. This means cash flow suffers even when revenues don’t.
  2. Incomplete, non- specific, or non-optimized coding means leaving money on the table. While not obvious like delays and denials, and it be undetected for years. Meaning, a non-specific or non-optimized code may “pass,” but often diminishes reimbursement. Only coders trained specifically for home health can maximize reimbursement through accurate coding.
  3. Bad coding can lose patients. If coding errors lead to payment denials and greater patient out-of-pocket expense, it could lose that client even if the error is eventually corrected. And, negative word of mouth can lose future referrals.
  4. Low productivity costs money. If submissions are slow or two less experienced coders do what a single efficient one can, the bottom line suffers.

4 Ways to Improve Coding

We could simply list ways coding impacts bottom line, but we want to focus on solutions. Here are four ways you can win with coding:

  1. Improve documentation. Coders can only code as well as the documentation they receive. Make sure clinicians are trained to document complete, accurate information and a system is in place that allows coders easily access clinicians for clarification.
  2. Hire better coders. If your coders are not certified, not trained specifically for HH, don’t have experience or good work habits, coding (and your bottom line) will suffer.
  3. Retrain existing coders. Coding clinics and further education help coders improve drastically. Investing in continuing education allows for coders to always be up to date.
  4. Outsource ICD coding. One of the easiest and often cost-effective ways to improve coding is to outsource. This decreases the cost of additional employees in-house and normally reimbursements jump 29% to 48%. Plus, clinical staff focuses on patient care when coding is no longer a responsibility.

Conclusion

Proper reimbursement is tied to coding. Poor coding causes delays, denials, and higher costs to do business. Never leave money on the table. Make sure you receive what you deserve to successfully care for patients.

To learn more about the importance of proper coding or to discuss benefits of outsourcing, contact Kenyon HomeCare Consulting today at 206-721-5091. Our Coding Plus Program and other services can help you improve your revenues and cash flow.

How to Successfully Partner with an ACO

With changing Medicare reimbursement protocols, home health agencies join Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) to promote growth. The benefits are enhanced client experience, quality outcomes, and financial incentives for providers.

Before you can partner with an ACO, specific guidelines must be met. Here’s how to prepare for successful partnerships.ACO

Tips for ACO Partnership

These are important for every agency, but even more vital when working toward ACO membership.

Here are five ways to achieve a successful partnership

1. Improve Client Care with Elite Staff

Caregivers are crucial to client satisfaction, which is a key requirement for inclusion in an ACO. To improve client satisfaction, provide chronic disease training. Chronic disease management is vital for home care clients. Each caregiver must be able recognize warning signs, manage symptoms, and execute treatment protocols properly to provide successful patient outcomes.

2. Prepare Management for Medicare Protocols

Management must function like a well-oiled machine. To maintain ACO membership, managers must be organized, detailed, and goal-oriented and continually progress toward quality outcomes. When preparing to partner with an ACO, agencies can benefit from a management consultant to shoulder additional (temporary) management tasks or to guide current managers in the right direction.

3. Evaluate Your Agency’s Strengths and Weaknesses

The first step toward successfully joining an ACO is evaluating agency strengths and weaknesses. See where you thrive and where you need help. Bringing in outside professional help to perform an organizational assessment offers an objective perspective, often revealing things not seen before.

4. Reach out to Local Healthcare Professionals

Partnerships only thrive when healthcare providers work together toward a common goal; the care of patients. To prepare to join an ACO, improve communications with other healthcare professionals involved in patient care. Find out where your agency can improve coordinating with other providers.

5. Rethink Your Marketing Plan

Positioning your agency as a leader in this arena gives you an in with ACO. What works and doesn’t work in your marketing plan? Again, an outside consultant can give a fresh perspective. He or she is experienced and knows marketing strategies to establish your agency as an invaluable partner in the community.

Working with Kenyon HomeCare Consulting to Prepare for ACO Inclusion

At Kenyon HomeCare Consulting, we can help you achieve your goals. Reach out to us and schedule your consultation with one of our skilled professionals.

8 Popular Tips To Coding and Documentation Improvements

In homecare, there are “tricks of the trade” to reach your full potential. In home health & hospice, coding practices and complete documentation are keys to survival and financial viability long term.

To help your agency grow and better serve its clients (as well as boost cash flow and bottom line), here are eight tips to improve your coding and documentation processes:

1. Insist Your Coders Be CertifiedCoding and Documentation

Improving your coding means educated coders. It’s that simple. Insist on experience as opposed to a novice, and search for reliable employees. If at all possible, hire certified coders experienced in home health because there are differences in other settings (e.g. hospital or doctor’s office). Certified coders help achieve optimal reimbursement for care provided.

2. Provide Continuing Education for Coders

The health care industry continuously changes, and home health is no exception. You cannot afford for coders to fall behind. They need ongoing education to ensure your agency never “leaves money on the table”.

3. Don’t Let Managers Get Distracted by Coding Duties

When managers are busy coding, the organization suffers as a result. Most managers are not coding experts and need to spend time coordinating care, implementing policies, and motivating workers. Without supervisors functioning as case managers, productivity sinks.

4. Consider Outsourcing All Coding

If you are unable to locate, hire, and retain the best coders to efficiently handle your workload, or you are spending too much for in-house coding, outsourcing may be a better solution. By boosting reimbursements by 29% to 48%, outsourcing typically pays for itself.

5. Monitor Clinicians and Coders Alike for “KPIs”

CMS offers the home healthcare provider numerous tools including the KPI (Key Performance Indicators) Fact Sheet. Use this, or an equivalent, to monitor coding and documentation performance on an ongoing basis. This provides an objective scorecard to measure accuracy.

6. Stay Up to Date on Coding Changes

To code accurately and maximize reimbursement, documentation must be accurate. Coders must be up to date on changes and know what documentation must be present to support the codes. One way is signing up for CMS industry update emails.

7. Direct Communication With Clinicians

In spite of intense training, clinicians take time to implement documentation changes. No one knows better what is needed to support coding than coders. Make sure coders can conveniently and quickly contact specific clinicians to clarify clinical information or identify when documentation is incomplete. Good coders are invaluable to make sure clinical documentation is accurate and sufficient.

8. Capitalize on Your Great Coding/Documentation

Increasing number of patients will help evaluate coding and documentation improvements. To do so, make sure your agency is accredited (insurers often avoid you otherwise); and work to maximize homecare referrals.

By improving coding accuracy and documentation, you will see growth in revenues enabling you to reinvest in your agency. This allows for growth like never before!

At Kenyon HomeCare Consulting, we offer both temporary and permanent coding outsource solutions, along with education and other resources. To learn more about our ICD Coding Plus Program, call us today at 206-721-5091 or contact us online.

5 Harsh Realities of Accountable Care Organization Staffing

Before your agency can reap the rewards an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) has to offer, it requires excellent client care with quality outcomes. To achieve this, re-evaluate your staffing practices.

Staffing an Accountable Care OrganizationAccountable Care Organization

Home health staffing in an ACO is different than you’re accustomed to. Here are five harsh realities your agency must face staffing for an ACO.

1. Lack of flexibility leads to increased rehospitalizations.

One major requirement for an ACO is quality outcomes, which means decreased rehospitalizations. Proper availability of staff is crucial. If staffing levels are too tight, no one is available for patients in trouble. This leads to emergency situations and potential hospital admissions. To prevent this, make sure your agency is staffed with back up to make strategic patient visits as needed.

2. Proper care planning is necessary to help prevent emergencies.

Another factor for ACO success is frequency of patient visits. How often clinicians make patient visits can affect early symptom intervention/ management which decreases urgent care cost. Because an ACO’s goal is prevention and chronic disease management, providers receive financial incentives to manage symptoms effectively at home. The way to ensure proper monitoring is to provide comprehensive patient visits and increased contact from the agency.

3. Inadequate management prevents agencies from meeting ACO requirements.

Many times, client care quality boils down to management. What is your agency’s current scheduling model for visits? Without organized schedules, clinicians may not use time efficiently. Sometimes, hiring a management consultant can provide better oversight of clinician time and improve patient contact outside direct visits.

4. Poor client care causes issues with providers.

If client care suffers due to inefficient staffing, agencies can be eliminated from ACO participation. Not only does your agency miss out on financial incentives, but client retention will also suffer. This affects your bottom line as well as future referrals.

5. Being part of an ACO means making an investment.

Improving quality of care requires significant time and financial commitment from agencies. Participation in an ACO is no exception. To meet requirements, agencies must reach benchmarks in quality outcomes determined by Medicare. Making sure existing and new staff receive the best possible training is crucial to success in an ACO.

Reaching Accountable Care Organization Goals with Kenyon HomeCare Consulting

At Kenyon HomeCare Consulting, we have tools to help agencies with an ACO. From employee training to management consulting, we help your agency succeed. Schedule your free consultation to learn more.

How To Improve Your Billing And Coding Quickly

Maintaining a staff of top-tier clinicians who deliver second-to-none care to your clients is your first priority as a homecare organization owner or manager. But billing and coding are nearly as important. For, unless you are adequately reimbursed for the services you provide, your ability to deliver that unbeatable care will soon evaporate.

When your home health agency is experiencing delays, denials, and persistent problems with coding and claim submissions, every day these problems continue is a drain on your resources. How, then, can you improve your coding and billing as quickly as possible?

8 Key Strategies to Rapidly Improve Your Billing and Coding Processesbilling and coding

By fixing your coding and billing issues, both eliminating costly mistakes and maximizing your reimbursements on each claim, your agency will find immediate relief from financial strains and stressors.

Here are 9 keys to boosting reimbursements and improving cash flow rapidly by refining your billing and coding processes:

1. Use only certified coders with extensive home health & hospice specific experience.

Your coding program can only be as strong as your coders. So diligently searching for and carefully selecting superior homecare and/or hospice coders should be a top priority. There are many coding details that differ depending on if the claims are for homecare, hospital or physician practices. So your priority must be to find and hire coders with homecare training and experience if at all possible.

2. Don’t bog managers down with coding — practice division of labor.

Let your coders code and your leaders manage. Performing the duties managers are trained for is going to always be more efficient, When managers are distracted by non-managerial duties, the whole organization suffers.

3. Focus on providing coders with ideal documentation support.

Documentation is to a medical coder what ammo is to a machine gun, and you cannot expect to win the war if your front line soldiers are under-supplied. Documentation must be complete and sufficiently specific so coders can fill in all appropriate alphanumeric slots correctly. And remember, all clinical documentation must match that of other providers.

4. Avoid recertification denials by specifying measurable goals and detailing progress toward those goals.

CMS now demands more detailed data than previously required on recerts. Clinicians must “justify” the need for continued in-home care and services down to the tiniest details.

5. Invest in continued education for both coders and clinicians.

No matter how perfect your coders now code and your clinicians now document, there is always room for improvement. Because of constant tweaks and changes,staff will eventually fall behind without continuing education.

6. Immediately implement all ICD-10 updates.

Every year CMS provides ICD-10 coding updates, changing dozens of codes and delivering new information. You cannot afford to delay in becoming aware of and implementing these updates.

7. Gauge your progress with monthly and annual reports.

Only by knowing where you are can you measure your progress toward where you are going. Keep detailed statistics on your coding and documentation performance. Knowing specific areas of needed improvement for struggling clinicians and/or coders is critical.

8. Be prepared to reach out to your MAC for help.

Every homecare agency has its own Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) who processes claims for CMS. Click here to find your region, and to see which MAC processes claims for your state. Each MAC provides resources to answer billing and reimbursement questions. Find relevant phone numbers for your home health/hospice MAC here.

The Outsourcing Option

Although we have looked at 8 keys to improving your in-house billing and coding, the fastest and easiest way for many is to outsource. In most cases, outsourcing is the most financially feasible option overall. Outsourcing boosts reimbursements significantly and saves you the cost of employing coders in-house. Additional, most outsourcing partners offer help with optimizing documentation and provide monthly progress reports.

But, be sure to select your outsourcing partner as carefully as you would an in-house coder, for all outsourcing agencies are not created equal.

Conclusion

By working to improve your coding and billing in-house or by outsourcing these tasks to a top outsourcing partner, you can rapidly improve your reimbursements and cash flow. Kenyon’s program can

Learn how the Kenyon HomeCare Consulting program Coding Plus can boost your reimbursements by 29% to 48%! Call 206-721-5091 or schedule an appointment online for a free 30 minute consultation.

How To Ensure Positive Interim Management Outcomes

Interim management can be a useful tool for growing your homecare organization or overcoming obstacles within. When choosing an interim manager, it’s crucial to evaluate their character traits, both professional and personal, as these are the factors that will most affect your interim management outcomes.

Guaranteeing Positive Interim Management Outcomesinterim management outcomes interim management outcomes

The right interim manager (IM) has the ability to help your organization soar. Likewise, the wrong interim professional can wreak havoc on any progress you’ve made up to now.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of nine attributes of an interim manager to ensure positive interim management outcomes.

1. Field Expertise

The best IMs are mature in their careers—they’ve been around the block a few times, so to speak. They’re experts, comfortable with the challenges of home care operations and know where to turn for the best solutions. Specifically, for the homecare industry that includes everything from state and federal regulations to client care best practices.

2. Selflessness

If your IM is more concerned about furthering his or her career status than truly helping your agency, it’s time to find a replacement. Consequently, the number one priority of an interim manager is to put the needs of your homecare organization above their own.

3. Flexibility

In past articles, we’ve discussed the importance of homecare owners and managers being flexible when working with an IM. However, it’s equally as vital for your interim manager to be open to changes to his or her own visions for the betterment of your agency.

4. Ability to Work with and Instruct Others Well

Because hiring an interim manager is akin to bringing a stranger into your home, people skills are crucial. Your IM should be capable of putting existing employees at ease while constructively guiding them toward changes necessary for growth.

5. Capacity for Planning and Organizing

The objectives of an interim manager are to assess your agency’s strengths and weaknesses, create goals for improvement, and strategize ways to achieve those goals. Thus, organization is a key characteristic of an effective IM.

6. Enthusiasm

Your interim manager should be as passionate about the success of your agency as any permanent employee. However, interim management outcomes depend on this more than most homecare owners realize. Lack of enthusiasm results in lackluster results.

7. Independence and Self-Motivation

As a leader in your home care agency—even if only temporarily—your IM has the important responsibility of paving a new path toward success. This requires interim managers to be self-starters who initiate change, not followers who wait for other employees to take the first step.

8. Resilience

All too often, circumstances around the need for an interim manager are less than ideal. Perhaps there were organizational layoffs, or maybe a management-level employee was let go for ethical reasons.

Regardless of the cause, times of transition often reap negativity in remaining employees, which can be taken out on the interim manager. To thrive in this environment, your IM must have courage, persistence, and a positive attitude.

9. Access to Resources

For the best possible interim management outcomes, an effective interim manager should have nearly unlimited access to any resource you may need during (and after) your major transition.

From employee handbooks to marketing tools, these resources will stay with your organization long after the IM is gone, continuing to garner growth and success.

Interim Management Outcomes with Kenyon HomeCare Consulting

The next time you need an interim manager, consider the qualities listed above. You’ll find professionals with each of these traits at Kenyon HomeCare Consulting ready to your ensure positive interim management outcomes.

Schedule your free 30-minute consultation now to learn more.

Use Interim Management to Improve Agency Operations

Interim management is an effective tool for home care agencies undergoing transition or struggling to initiate growth. Whether your organization is skilled or non-skilled, small or large, accredited or not, you will face challenges. When that happens, step back and evaluate.

Problems Solved with Management ConsultingInterim Management

Transitions in home care occur with the constant change of health care. Frequent change often leads to decreased productivity, lack of progress and growth. Here are four operational issues management consulting solves, and how:

Employee Turnover

High employee turnover rates negatively affect organizations. It’s impossible to run a well-oiled home care machine when you lose employees, especially management-level employees. The right interim manager provides resources to recruit, hire, and train the best of the best so that turnover rates decrease. From policy and procedure writing to competency testing, management consulting provides productive working relationships.

Poor Operations Management

Operating procedures have the ability to make or break your agency. Operations affect everything from client care to billing. If your agency is struggling, it is time to evaluate your system. Management consulting provides a thorough organizational assessment, allowing you to analyze strengths,weaknesses and address needs for improvement.

Billing and Revenue Issues

Billing is complicated. Ineffective billing processes can quickly become cumbersome and time-consuming. Poor billing practices also lead to decreased revenue. The good news is many interim management programs offer customized coding services to help staff understand coding and maximize revenue according to patient acuity.

Conflicting Management Styles

Managers in home health agencies should share vision with owners and the organization as a whole in regards to operations. If you are dealing with management styles that are too aggressive, too passive, or not in line with core agency values, it’s time to look at help. Interim managers assist with retraining existing managers or, if necessary, finding and hiring the best possible replacements.

Management Consulting with Kenyon HomeCare Consulting

Kenyon HomeCare Consulting’s Interim Management program helps home health agencies tackle the issues mentioned above. With our management consulting, organizations optimizes success even during change. To learn more, schedule your free consultation today.