Elevating the Patient Experience in Home Health Care

When family members are deciding which home health care agency to use to provide services for a loved one, one of the first things they ask others who have already been down that road is how well their grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, etc. are being treated. Quality of care and safety are of principal concern, which includes how engaged and interactive home health aides are with their patients. Sometimes this interaction comes down to the smallest of details, which can speak volumes. For instance, in communicating with a patient, a home health care aide who bends his/her knees to get eye-level with a wheelchair-bound patient is showing respect in lieu of literally looking down on the patient. 

Improving the patient experience is not only the right thing to do but it is part of the overhaul of the Home Health Prospective Payment System (HHPPS) by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The goal of the new CMS rules, which go into effect in early 2020, is to emphasize individual patient needs over volume of care. The intent of the payment system, known as the Patient Driven Groupings Model (PDGM), is to enable home health agencies to spend less time on administrative duties and more time delivering quality care.

To help elevate the patient experience, home health care agencies are encouraged to foster creativity and innovation among all stakeholders – doctors, nurses, home health aides, personal care aides, and so on – throughout the organization. Recommendations include getting different perspectives and viewpoints on what can be done to improve patient care; and asking for ideas and feedback, including from new caregiver hires who can enlighten an employer on why they left their previous agencies. Listening to the needs of the patient and their family is a logical place to gather information as well. 

Other suggestions from those involved in the home health care field include hiring people who love what they do. This may seem basic, but if an individual has a passion for caretaking, this will come through in their work with the patient. These individuals will also welcome the opportunity to share ideas of how to improve quality of patient care and engagement. In looking for new hires, find those who fit the culture and vision of the organization and can help move the home health care agency forward.  Of course, creating this innovative culture within the home care business is the first step in improving the delivery of care. 

It’s also important to reward good ideas. If a home health care worker presents an idea and its implementation is successful and garners results, acknowledge his/her creativity and innovation. More employees will begin contributing ideas when they see they are being heard and rewarded. Of course, test and measure all ideas once put into practice, and comply with overall best practices in the industry.

Elevating the patient experience is not only good for business, it’s also a prudent risk management strategy. With safety and quality always top of mind, fewer mistakes and accidents that can cause injuries and losses will occur.  Employees will “take ownership” of their actions and pride in delivery of quality services. Happy and engaged patients are also less likely to look at litigation as an avenue if an incident unfortunately does occur.  

Manchester Specialty Programs specializes in insuring Home Health Care, Allied Health and Human/Social Services organizations and their unique caregiving risks. For more information about how we can help you protect your insureds, please contact us at 855.972.9399.