Monthly Archives: January 2016

Make it easy for physicians to know when it’s time for hospice

Although the country seems to be more comfortable with the need for advance care planning, particularly evident in the recent CMS decision to allow physician reimbursement for these conversations, let’s face it, many doctors remain uncomfortable with the idea of hospice or even discussing hospice care with their patients.

All too often, patients begin hospice care so late in their disease that they only receive services for a few days when they could have been experiencing improvement in quality of life and symptom management for much longer.

As hospice companies continue their efforts to educate physicians about the good hospice can do, it can be beneficial to use tools to help doctors know when it’s appropriate to refer a patient with a particular diagnosis.

These referral materials should include the hospice eligibility guidelines and the related tools needed to determine whether a patient meets the criteria.

TAG Partners has created several materials to help you in your educational efforts and help you accomplish your goals of building strong referral partnerships.

• Guidelines for Hospice Admission flip charts are among the most popular educational materials TAG Partners produces. These coat-pocket-sized coil-bound booklets cover the criteria for hospice admission for a variety of diagnoses.

• Hospice Pocket Reference Guides offer a condensed version of the eligibility criteria as well as information on pain management, common problems, commonly used medications and tips for dealing with difficult patients.

• The new Hospice Eligibility Quick-Reference Guide provides an at-a-glance single-sheet reference for desktop use.

All three materials include information about the New York Heart Association Functional Classification, the Palliative Performance Scale, and Functional Assessment Staging.

While you’re discussing hospice eligibility with physicians, make sure they know about the new advance care planning payment rule. Check out this blog entry for more information.

Cancer Prevention Month: A time for home care to step up outreach

February is National Cancer Prevention Month. With so many forms of the disease and such high prevalence, cancer touches nearly every American family in some way. Make solid efforts this month to increase awareness of effective cancer prevention and early detection, as well as how home health, hospice or private duty home care can help.

  • Smoking is one of the greatest risk factors for developing cancers of the head, neck and lung. It also may place people at increased risk for other types of cancer. Try to get the smokers in your agency, in the offices of your referral sources, and among your clients to quit for good by sponsoring a Quit Tobacco Day. Although the Great American Smokeout isn’t until November, the American Cancer Society’s webpage for that observance has tons of effective ideas and activities.
  • Find all the trinkets and promotional items you will need to get the conversation going about this month’s initiative by calling TAG Partners at 866.232.6477. We can direct you to the items that you need, such as pens, tote bags, mugs and other promotional items.
  • Team up with your local hospitals and sponsor a mammography voucher program. These programs provide education, counseling, breast cancer screening and diagnostic services to low-income women in your community. Have your partner hospitals or women’s care centers agree to run the diagnostic screens for women free of charge. This program has provided services for women across the country. For more information, contact your local Komen for the Cure organization.
  • Promote early detection by creating a flyer with basic guidelines patients can follow to increase their success of detecting cancer early. Leave these in local physicians’ waiting rooms. Here’s some basic information to start.
  • Promote healthy diet changes as an effective way to prevent cancer. This month, volunteer to teach a 30-minute class about healthy diet and foods that can help prevent cancer. Here’s a great place to start your research.

Patient Recognition Week: Show your home care clients a little extra love

It’s time to recognize those people who make everything we do possible: Our patients.

National Patient Recognition Week takes place every Feb. 1–7 and National Patient Recognition Day is Feb. 3. Set aside time to show your current (and prospective) patients how much you appreciate and value them. They’ll remember this personal gesture the next time it’s time to turn to home care.

  • All patients your agency comes in contact with today should receive a special surprise: A flower, card or other small treat. Be sure to let them know you appreciate them and are ready to help them in any way you can.
  • Show your commitment to providing your community’s best home care services by contacting your local television and radio talk shows and asking to discuss patient satisfaction and Patient Recognition Day with the shows’ hosts.
  • Post your agency’s thanks to your patients on your website.
  • Take to the Internet to host a virtual town hall meeting. This online event can make patients feel like the valued partners they are. Encourage clients and their family members to participate to learn about the latest happenings in your agency and to offer their feedback about your performance.
  • Make your patients’ lives a little easier by giving them a handy way to keep their fragile Medicare card protected and in good condition. Hand out Medicare card protective sleeves, which already contain a card promoting your agency as the source for home care or hospice and a toll-free Medicare number.
  • Improve patient satisfaction by redoubling efforts to improve communication between care providers and patients, as well as within the agency overall. Make sure your staff knows the importance of good communication not only with clients, but also with referral sources, other staff members and superiors.

Increase referrals with Heart Month-focused activities

Heart disease continues to be the nation’s leading cause of death, with about 600,000 people dying every year. In all, about 26.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with heart disease (that’s 11.5 percent of all adults!).

With such huge numbers of people affected by this disease, it’s no wonder the medical community emphasizes cardiac care in February. Join this effort, which includes American Heart Month, Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day (Feb. 14), Cardiovascular Professionals Week (Feb. 14–20), Cardiac Rehabilitation Week (Feb. 14–20), and National Wear Red Day (Feb. 5). And don’t forget what may be the most symbolic heart day there is: Valentine’s Day.

  • Partner with a local cardiologist and sponsor a heart health-focused education class for local women’s groups in your area.
  • Distribute free flyers featuring the warning signs of a heart attack, as well as your agency’s disease-specific brochures at all your local medical office waiting rooms.
  • Join forces with a local registered dietitian and have community classes about heart-healthy foods. Create a mini-cookbook on your agency’s letterhead. Find recipe inspiration here.
  • The best way to show referral sources that you’re the best choice to keep their patients healthy and out of the hospital are your positive outcomes. Use your outcomes scores as compared with statewide and national averages to demonstrate your agency’s success. Highlight them this month as you visit cardiologists, hospital discharge planners and other referral sources. Home health agencies: don’t forget to include your Quality of Patient Care star rating!
  • Set up a booth with a clinician at a community health fair this month and offer free cholesterol screenings. Make sure you have plenty of information about cardiovascular diseases on hand, as well as your agency’s marketing materials.