Monthly Archives: December 2015

New Advance Care Planning rule means stronger physician partnerships

CMS has given patients an incredible gift with its recent decision to pay physicians for their time spent on advance care planning.

You already know how important advance care planning is for everyone — especially older adults with chronic health conditions. It’s time to make sure your referral community knows it, too.

Learn more about the recent Medicare ACP  rule here.

TAG Partners has developed a new educational guide your agency can use to educate physicians about the ins and outs of advance care planning. It includes information about billing for hospice patients, and an overview of advance care planning (ACP) billing and its CPT billing codes.

It also includes an at-a-glance look at the primary ACP documents (the living will, medical power of attorney, and “do not resuscitate” order) and guidance on why advance directives are necessary and what should be done with them.

It’s critical to the improvement of overall end-of-life care that physicians begin having these conversations much earlier in the disease process and much more often.

Make the commitment to educate your area’s physicians about the importance of ACP, as well as the fact that Medicare will reimburse them for time spent doing ACP.

Providing this information will help this group think of your agency when it’s time to make a referral.

It also will help your patients take a more active role in their care and become familiar with the language of end-of-life care and their own wishes before they are in the midst of a health crisis.


Healthy Weight Week is a marketing opportunity you may be missing

Although thoughts at the start of the year always turn to dropping a pant size or two, we should all be focusing on health instead of appearance. Promote healthy living this Healthy Weight Week (Jan. 17–Jan. 23) and Women’s Healthy Weight Day (Jan. 28).

Increasing your involvement with educational campaigns such as this is a great way to expand your community presence while also spreading the word about home care.

Here are some easy things you can do to get started:

  • Sponsor a healthy recipe contest in your community’s senior centers, ILFs, ALFs and among your clients. Encourage seniors and facility staff members to submit their favorite healthy recipes. Offer a small prize to the person with the tastiest recipe and make the recipe booklet available to this community in print or online. Don’t forget to include your agency’s services and contact information.

  • Offer to host a diet and nutrition class for seniors at a local senior center or library. Here’s a ready-made class that a non-clinician can present.

  • Approach local senior church groups with hosting a healthy potluck supper in which seniors can participate in a discussion and class on how obesity among the elderly is especially dangerous to their general health.

  • Private duty agencies call on bariatric clinics with specialized 3- or 4-hour post-surgical service packages for newly discharged surgical patients that include light housekeeping and meal preparation.

  • This Women’s Healthy Weight Day, organize a short community walk to encourage local senior ladies to get some exercise and maintain their health. Encourage caregivers to get involved, too. Provide healthy treats like fruit at the end of the event.

Increase home care outreach during Glaucoma Awareness Month

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that can lead to damage to the optic nerve and vision loss. It is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States and most often occurs in people over age 40.

About 3 million Americans in this age group have the disease today (but only about half are aware they have it). This number could reach 4.2 million by 2030, according to the National Eye Institute.

Join the Glaucoma Research Foundation in marking National Glaucoma Awareness Month this January.

  • Partner with a local ophthalmologist to teach a class at a local senior center on the need for and benefits of annual glaucoma screenings and early detection.

  • Drop in at local senior centers, assisted living facilities and VFW locations and remind the seniors there that Medicare provides an annual dilated eye exam to Medicare beneficiaries at a high risk for glaucoma. These include African Americans and those with diabetes or a family history of glaucoma.

  • Contact your local Lions Club International affiliate and become an advocate in your community’s eyeglass recycling efforts. Visit for more information. Distribute your vision health flyers to all the members.

  • Distribute professional flyers to your entire market stating the benefits of your services relative to low-vision patient care.

  • Contact your local newspaper’s health reporter or your local television news stations and offer to discuss the potential blindness epidemic that awaits us if glaucoma screenings do not increase. In addition to discussing the services your agency can provide, be sure to connect them with a patient who has glaucoma (be sure to identify and get the patient’s permission first).

Build your home care partnerships this January

It’s time to make an effort to recognize an important health care partner that might not be getting much love: your local pharmacists. Jan. 12 is National Pharmacist Day. These important professionals not only serve as an additional safeguard to keep seniors safe from potentially dangerous drug interactions, but can be a wonderful source of referrals.

  • Take time to drop in on your local pharmacists with a gesture of appreciation for the work they do. This can be a simple and memorable personalized card.

  • While calling on your local pharmacists, be sure they know the benefits home care can have for their customers, particularly medication adherence, fall prevention, companionship and increased patient safety. Be sure to leave behind brochures that outline your general services.

  • Partner with a local pharmacist and staff a table together at a local health fair. Work together to answer health and medication-related questions from attendees. Be sure to take her to lunch afterward.

  • Place an item on your local government’s regular meeting agenda seeking to officially recognize Jan. 12 as National Pharmacist Day in your community. Be sure to attend the meeting and sign up to speak either as the item is read into the record and voted on or during the meeting’s public comment period. Spread the word to the pharmacists in your community and encourage them to attend to receive their well-deserved recognition in person.

  • Update your agency website with a badge and short recognition of pharmacists. Take photos of a few community pharmacists and include them in the post to help your clients take notice of these often unsung professionals.

  • Utilize your social media streams to show your support of pharmacists and the work they do.