Your skilled nursing facility’s COVID-19 communication plan

The news surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak changes rapidly as new cases are detecting, new communities are affected, governments enact preventative measures and the medical community looks for treatments. Within your skilled nursing facility, timely communication with staff and residents, and residents’ families, is critical in helping to stop the spread of the disease and maintain calm. Sharing information effectively and quickly becomes even more important if a case is suspected or confirmed within your facility.

That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that skilled nursing facilities have a communication plan1 in place as part of their COVID-19 preparedness. Your plan should allow you to quickly share up-to-date information on COVID-19 prevention, as well as to rapidly inform residents, staff and families of a COVID-19 infection.

As you evaluate the effectiveness of your COVID-19 communication plan, you should consider:

  • Whether you have the infrastructure in place to quickly share important information about COVID-19 with staff, residents and their families
  • How you can respond to the CDC’s COVID-19 updates and share that information with your SNF community
  • How you can verify that staff and residents have received and understood important information regarding COVID-19
  • The evaluation of your staff’s ability to put COVID-19 safety measures into place after those measures have been communicated
  • How communication fits into your COVID-19 emergency response protocol

The CDC recommends the COVID-19 communication plan for your skilled nursing facility goes beyond simply disseminating printed materials. You want to be sure that your residents, staff and community are receiving and responding to the important information you share. Staff should undergo COVID-19 safety training, residents should be educated on the measures they can take and your facility should have an educational library your residents and staff can turn to as a resource.2

Your skilled nursing facility plays an important role in monitoring and sharing information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Make sure you have a plan in place that will allow you to effectively share relevant COVID-19 information.

Tracking data related to the COVID-19 infection can help your facility respond to potential cases of the disease. Find out how ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH can help your facility monitor infection and infection response data.

 

Sources:

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Preparedness Checklist for Nursing Homes and Other Long-term Care Settings.” Accessed March 23, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/novel-coronavirus-2019-Nursing-Homes-Preparedness-Checklist_3_13.pdf.

2. Wilkins, D. “Coronavirus: Is your senior living facility prepared for a widespread outbreak?” McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. March 5, 2020.

 

ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and INFECTIONWATCH® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

CMS issues new COVID-19 reporting requirements for SNFs

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has declared skilled nursing facilities “ground zero” in the country’s COVID-19 outbreak. In an attempt to monitor and control the spread of the virus within SNFs, CMS this week released new reporting requirements for COVID-19 infections.

The new infection reporting protocol are based, in part, on recommendations from the American Health Care Association and Leading Age. The two industry groups had called on skilled nursing facilities to report COVID-19 infections in a more timely manner.

Under the guidelines, SNFs must:

• Inform residents, as well as their families and representatives, of any positive COVID-19 cases within the facility within 12 hours

• Inform residents, as well as their families and representatives, of any instances of 3 or more respiratory illnesses within the facility within 72 hours

• Update residents, as well as their families and representatives, of COVID-19 infections and mitigation efforts weekly

• Report cases of COVID-19 directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

• Continue to meet requirements to report infectious diseases to state and local health departments

• Fully cooperate with all CDC efforts to monitor the spread of COVID-19

COVID-19 reporting tools

To assist skilled nursing facilities with meeting the new requirements, the CDC will provide SNFs with a reporting tool. According to CMS, the reporting tool will be an important component in collecting national COVID-19 data to monitor the spread of the virus and coordinate infection response. Any COVID-19 data collected through the new reporting program will be made publicly available by CMS.

“Nursing homes have been ground zero for COVID-19. [This] action supports CMS’ longstanding commitment to providing transparent and timely information to residents and their families,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Nursing home reporting to the CDC is a critical component of the go-forward national COVID-19 surveillance system and to efforts to reopen America.”

Improving your infection control program

Skilled nursing facilities can get additional help in monitoring COVID-19 symptoms and control efforts with ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH. This helpful application allows SNFs to enhance their infection control programs while adhering to all CMS requirements. Learn more about how ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH can help your facility monitor COVID-19 prevention efforts.

 

Source: “Trump Administration Announces New Nursing Homes COVID-19 Transparency Effort.” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. April 19, 2020. https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/trump-administration-announces-new-nursing-homes-covid-19-transparency-effort

ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

What your skilled nursing facility should be doing to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak

COVID-19 presents a scary proposition for skilled nursing facilities. It spreads rapidly and has a high mortality rate among the elderly, those with weakened immune systems and people with pre-existing health conditions. For those reasons, most skilled nursing facilities have enacted dramatic measures to distance residents and prevent the disease from being introduced to the facility.

Common steps being taken by SNFs for infection prevention to combat the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Temporarily prohibiting visitors to the facility
  • Canceling communal meals and activities
  • Enacting social distancing by making sure residents are at least six feet apart at all times
  • Frequently cleaning and disinfecting high-touch areas
  • Placing alcohol-based hand sanitizer in all rooms and keeping handwashing stations well stocked
  • Closely monitoring residents and staff for signs of infection
  • Creating a clear plan for the treatment of residents who are suspected of having COVID-19 or who test positive for the virus

What additional measures can SNFs take to stop the spread of COVID-19?

While many of these measures have been drastic, SNF administration and staff may be wondering what else they could do to prevent COVID-19 from reaching and spreading through their facility. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has proposed that SNFs take the following immediate action to help fight COVID-19:

  • Keeping volunteers and non-essential personnel from entering the facility
  • Screening staff for fever and other signs of COVID-19 at the start of every shift
  • Enacting a communication plan to keep residents, staff and families up to date on all COVID-19 prevention measures and concerns
  • Increasing the use of personal protective equipment by staff
  • Ensuring that sick-leave policies are non-punitive and flexible so staff feel like they can stay home when sick
  • Preparing an emergency plan for staff shortages in case of a community outbreak
  • Reviewing data from past outbreaks to identify measures that were effective in stopping the spread of disease within the facility

COVID-19’s infection and mortality rates are rightly causing alarm for skilled nursing facilities. Following CDC’s recommendations for combatting the pandemic can help keep residents and staff safe from the virus. Facilities also should be carefully tracking data to monitor for signs of the disease and to document measures to follow infection control protocol. Find out how ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH can help your facility monitor COVID-19 and infection control measures.

 

Source:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Preparing for COVID-19: Long-term Care Facilities, Nursing Homes.” Accessed March 23, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/healthcare-facilities/prevent-spread-in-long-term-care-facilities.html

 

ABILITY and design®, ABILITY ® and ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

Tracking COVID-19 symptoms in your skilled nursing facility

The sooner you identify a case of COVID-19 in your skilled nursing facility, the sooner you can act to stop the spread of the disease among staff and residents.

Tracking the right data in your skilled nursing facility can help you identify the signs of a COVID-19 infection early. It also can help you take the best steps to prevent the spread of the disease. Find out which data you should be tracking and which data you should be reviewing to identify possible risks in your facility.

Data to track amid the COVID-19 pandemic

In the case that COVID-19 does strike your nursing home, data could provide insight into who could have been infected, how the disease spread and how effective the preventative measures you took to stop the disease were in preventing an outbreak.

Information you should be recording and reviewing as part of your COVID-19 SNF infection prevention efforts include:

  • Recent upper respiratory infections that didn’t have a clear or diagnosed cause
  • Respiratory symptoms reported for infections that both met and did not meet McGeer criteria
  • Infections reported by staff or visitors to your skilled nursing facility
  • Measures you have been taking to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 in your facility
  • Specific infection control measures taken when a resident, staff or visitor shows symptoms that could turn out to be a case of COVID-19

Reviewing data to help stop the spread of COVID-19

In addition to tracking new data, reviewing your existing data can help you identify and address COVID-19 in your skilled nursing facility. Knowing any patients who recently showed signs of respiratory infection can help you identify residents or staff who may have been affected by disease but only experienced minor symptoms. If you have a positive COVID-19 test in your facility, understanding everyone who was affected can help you discover how the disease has spread.

Your facility also can benefit from taking a look at data from previous infection outbreaks. What was the last outbreak that struck your facility? Reviewing how many patients were affected, how the disease spread and the effectiveness of the measures you took to stop the outbreak can give you insight into how COVID-19 could spread in your facility and the steps you could take to prevent it.

Tracking data to aid with SNF infection prevention

Data is a valuable tool when dealing with infection control in your skilled nursing facility. It can help you identify an outbreak early, and it can provide insight on the effectiveness of your infection control program. Find out how ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH can help your nursing staff manage infection control data to keep your residence safe. Talk to an expert now!

 

ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITIY INFECTIONWATCH® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

Maximize revenue and monitor CCM program performance

Quality data drives wise decisions.

That’s never been more true than in today’s healthcare environment. Think about your practice for a moment. How would you benefit from reports, enrollment status information and other key performance indicators vital to your practice?

You’d be able to make crucial decisions needed to boost revenue and maximize returns.

In today’s interconnected world, any guru worth their salt will tell you that quality data is vital to monitoring performance and increasing revenue.

If you’ve been with us since the beginning of this blog series, you’re aware of the numerous benefits of effectively implementing a Chronic Care Management (CCM) program in your practice.

You should also be aware that we have the perfect application to help you maximize and increase revenue in addition to helping you monitor the performance of your CCM program.

ABILITY NAVIGATOR™ CCM helps you meet daily challenges head-on by providing you with built-in analytics that show key metrics including:

• Reports with patient-level and aggregate analysis on patient eligibility and enrollment status
• Realized and unrealized revenue potential
• Clinical activity performance

With powerful analytics at your fingertips, you can manage your practice more effectively so your patients will experience better outcomes.

Get to know ABILITY NAVIGATOR CCM at a complimentary webinar or speak to a CCM expert today!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this series, 5 Things You Need to Know About Implementing a Chronic Care Management Program! If you missed any posts or would like to revisit the content, click on any of the titles below:

1. Avoid Missed CCM Care and Income Opportunities
2. Increase Awareness: Introduce Your Patients to CCM
3. How to Streamline Clinical Workflow and Reduce Staff Stress
4. Prevent Uncompensated Claims in Your Chronic Care Management (CCM) Program

Have questions?

Our CCM experts are here to assist you.

 

HICNs to MBIs for Medicare Eligibility: How to Handle the Switch

By now, you are probably aware that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is no longer accepting SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Numbers (HICNs) for most transactions.

The HICNs have been replaced with randomly-generated Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers (MBIs), intended to improve the security of patients’ personal information and help prevent fraud.

Starting January 1, claims or eligibility transactions submitted without an MBI have been rejected. And since an estimated 65 percent of claim denials are never corrected and re-submitted for reimbursement*, this could result in a preventable and sizeable hit to your revenue cycle.

The long and tedious hunt for patient MBIs

Updated Medicare cards with the new MBIs were mailed to patients long before the deadline, so one might expect the transition to be simple.

However, it’s important to remember that patients are people. They are busy. They forget to bring their cards to appointments. Especially where hospitals are concerned, patient visits may be unexpected or emergent. Where does that leave you as a provider?

While patient cards may be the easiest way to get an MBI, it certainly isn’t the only way. It’s possible to use your Medicare Administrative Contractor’s MBI look-up tool, but this process relies heavily on precise patient or policyholder data, and checking numbers one-at-a-time is tedious at best.

You can also refer to historical remittance advice if you happened to treat the patient prior to January 1 and have access to the records.

If you’ve had to resort to these methods, you understand how cumbersome the process can be.

An easier way to turn HICNs into MBIs

Busy healthcare providers need practical procedures to keep things running smoothly. Automated tools can take the administrative burden off of your staff and allow them to move on to the next claim faster.

Unlike other revenue cycle management providers, ABILITY goes beyond basic MBI lookup to provide full-service eligibility processing. Not only does our enhanced eligibility service have a nearly 100 percent MBI match rate; when combined with ABILITY COMPLETE, it also offers batch Medicare eligibility checks, alerts to indicate other insurance coverage and more.

Discover how to perform real-time eligibility verification and collect MBIs all at once. Request a demo today.

* “Success in Proactive Denials Management and Prevention,” Glen Reiner, HFMA, Accessed Jan 20, 2020, https://www.hfma.org/topics/hfm/2018/september/61778.html Read more

Prevent uncompensated claims in your Chronic Care Management (CCM) program

You go above and beyond every day to provide the best possible care for your patients. Unfortunately, many of the services you provide outside of face-to-face visits require extra time and resources and don’t come with additional compensation.

All we can say is … ouch. But what if you could get paid for that time and care?

Medicare’s CCM program was created to help you more effectively manage the complex care of patients with multiple chronic conditions, resulting in better patient outcomes and provide reimbursement for these essential non face-to-face activities.

We’ve heard from many of our healthcare provider partners that in most cases, the work is already being done but without compensation. Why should you go unpaid when you’re providing world-class care for your patients? A Chronic Care Management (CCM) program can change that by ensuring you’re compensated for the services you provide.

You’ve done your part, now you rely on your billing team to submit claims for the work you’ve done and collect payment. What checks and balances do you have in place to guarantee all CCM claims get paid? Manual processes can be time consuming and inefficient. Wouldn’t it be nice to see with the click of a button which claims have been billed, paid or need your attention?

ABILITY NAVIGATOR™ CCM empowers your billers with the tools they need to ensure you’re compensated for the care coordination activities you’ve delivered. With a comprehensive view, you’ll have the capability to filter by claim status to see which patients need claims submitted, which have been billed and which have been paid. We’ll also alert your staff of claims that need attention so that no claim slips through the cracks.

You and your staff are doing too much work not to get compensated.

Discover how ABILITY can help you streamline and optimize your CCM billing!

Coming soon! Don’t miss our fifth and final blog in this series! We’ll discuss how to monitor your CCM program performance, determine program potential and track clinical activity performance.

Have questions?

Our CCM experts are here to assist you.

 

How to streamline clinical workflow and reduce staff stress

Did you know that over 40 million Medicare beneficiaries have multiple chronic conditions? Did you also know that people with chronic conditions account for over 75% of hospital stays, office visits, home health care, and prescription drugs?

There’s a high probability many of your patients qualify for Medicare’s Chronic Care Management (CCM) program. That said, manually managing a CCM program can put a significant strain on your staff, potentially leading to burnout.

If only there were a way to streamline your Chronic Care Management program, allowing you to enjoy the numerous benefits of CCM without unnecessarily burdening your staff…

That’s where we factor into the equation.

ABILITY NAVIGATOR™ CCM addresses many of the common concerns you face in your medical practice:

Patient enrollment: Our application helps you identify eligible patients at or before the point of service. We’ve even created a patient-education flyer you can share with patients.
Unfulfilled CCM activities: The application includes a streamlined workflow for you and your staff to see which patients still require care for the month.
Burned out staff: This application helps your staff track, document and bill for CCM activities. Streamlining the workflow reduces stress for your team.
Potential compliance issues: CCM activity records can be exported for ingestion by most EHR systems.

ABILITY NAVIGATOR CCM is a time-saving, easy-to-use application that fits into current workflows and eliminates manual CCM program management and time tracking.

It’s time you took a well-deserved break! Let ABILITY NAVIGATOR CCM do the heavy lifting so that you can avoid burning out your staff without missing out on unfulfilled CCM activities.

We’d love to show you how all the bells and whistles work!

In our last post, we talked about increasing patient awareness about CCM benefits. If you missed it, you can read it here.

Don’t miss our next blog! We’ll share how you can avoid uncompensated care and maintain a healthy bottom line.

Have questions?

Our CCM experts are here to assist you.

 

Increase awareness: Introduce your patients to CCM

They say ignorance is bliss. While that may be true for some things in life, it certainly doesn’t apply to healthcare. And for patients with chronic conditions, being informed about care options is critical.

Fortunately, Medicare’s Chronic Care Management (CCM) program helps patients get the coordinated care they need.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you had a feature rich application filled to the brim with resources designed to educate your patients about CCM?

What effect would that have on your practice? How many patients would sign up for your Chronic Care Management program if they were well informed?

Chronic Care Management can transform the quality of care offered by your staff, and provide a wealth of benefits for your patients. These include:

A healthcare team to coordinate, monitor and follow up on tests and treatment
Reduced risk of adverse health events
Access to care 24/7, including holidays and weekends
Medication management to avoid adverse reactions
Periodic check-ins from clinical providers

If your patients remain in the dark about CCM, they’re missing out on a major opportunity to receive the enhanced care they need. And since Medicare pays your practice for every qualified patient who signs up for your CCM program and receives the required care coordination each month, there’s no reason NOT to inform your patients at every opportunity.

ABILITY NAVIGATOR CCM can help by providing patient education resources and reporting for staff to identify potential participants within your practice.

Stick around for the next blog in our series, where we’ll show you how to streamline your CCM program to help you reduce employee burnout.

Missed our last blog? Read it now!

Have questions?

Our CCM experts are here to assist you.

 

Avoid missed care coordination and income opportunities

So, you’re thinking about starting a chronic care management (CCM) program, but not sure where to begin? If your objective is to avoid missed care opportunities AND increase your revenue…

You’ve come to the right place!

First things first. How do you go about identifying CCM-eligible patients?

CMS requires participants who are under your care to have two or more chronic conditions, and we’ve heard from many practices that this is a manual process done when patients are in the office for face-to-face visits. If you’re concerned about missing eligible patients, that’s where we can help.

ABILITY NAVIGATOR™ CCM features a patient panel that identifies which individuals have two or more chronic conditions and are eligible under CCM program guidelines. How much time would this save you and your staff? How many more patients would benefit from an automated identification process? Think about the positive impact this could have on your patient outcomes!

Now that you’ve identified your eligible CCM patients, you’re one step closer to unlocking a new stream of revenue and avoiding missed care opportunities for your patients in between face-to-face visits. As you and your clinical staff are managing care, ABILITY NAVIGATOR CCM enables you to streamline the workflow, not only for your clinical staff, but also your billing staff so no claim goes unbilled. ABILITY NAVIGATOR CCM does this by helping you:
Track time on care coordinated activities to meet CMS billing guidelines
• Alert clinical staff of patients that still require care for the month
• Notify your billers when care has been fulfilled and claims are ready to go

Have we piqued your interest?
Stay tuned for our next blog and we’ll share how to jump-start your CCM program or take it to the next level by increasing patient awareness and enrollment.

Have questions?

Our CCM experts are here to assist you.