Telemedicine in Hospice: Furnishing Treatments, Ease, and Guidance from a Distance

Telemedicine in Hospice

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Telehealth, which was already considered advantageous for palliation in isolated areas, has now become not just advantageous but a necessary asset during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) gave temporary waivers that allowed the use of telehealth for hospice care. Specifically, the waivers stated that face-to-face meetings for Medicare hospice certification can now be done using two-way audio and secure video conference telecommunications technology that allows for direct interaction between the patient and the hospice doctor or nurse practitioner.

Hucu.ai is a simple-to-use HIPAA Certified Messaging App that allows you to securely communicate with your colleagues and share messages, images, and files—in real-time, enhancing the quality of care for patients. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) understands the importance of shifting reimbursement regulations to give healthcare practitioners extra freedom when treating patients so that all individuals involved in the process are safeguarded from the novel Coronavirus. As an example, the waivers mean that a nurse responsible for a hospice aide no longer needs to come to the location every fortnight to assess the aide.

Before the emergence of the pandemic, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) emphasized the importance of implementing the best practices for remote healthcare in palliative care. According to the NHPCO, telehealth technology has the potential to:

  • Improve access to care.
  • Reduce the cost of providing care.
  • Shorten or eliminate travel time.
  • Improve clinical outcomes.
  • Increase patient and family satisfaction.

Facilitating the Shift to Telehealth Services

Remember that those going through the stress of a terminal diagnosis may find the transition to telehealth technology overwhelming. Therefore, it is best to have a clearly articulated plan to help those new to the system to adjust.

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Two important parts of the process of shifting to telehealth are providing clear instructions for technical use and compassionate personal assistance. It is necessary to emphasize the reasons for utilizing the system and to make sure that the patient has given their consent.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) has a web page full of resources related to the coronavirus, including a step-by-step flow chart created by legal firm Husch Blackwell. This chart is meant to guide hospice agencies in making decisions regarding telehealth technology. The advice given in the chart suggests that it is best for organizations to assign a leader as well as to build a multidisciplinary team to manage the telehealth program.

During the Pandemic, People’s Preferences have been Changing

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) conducted a survey. It determined that 61% of the hospice providers who responded had accepted patients diagnosed with COVID-19 into their care programs due to the changes in the care landscape that have occurred in response to the pandemic.

In an open letter to the head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice president pointed out that nearly all hospice care is delivered in the patient’s residence. He further stated that due to the lack of control over the environment and the potential exposure to illnesses, he is asking CMS to consider making permanent alterations to Medicare regulations that will permit the incorporation of telecommunications technologies in hospice care.

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) conducted a survey and discovered that over 95% of hospices reported that already enrolled patients had rejected hospice visits due to their apprehension of becoming infected in the pandemic. Additionally, more than half of the respondents stated that there was a decline in admissions.  The ability to use telecommunications technology in place of face-to-face recertification for hospice visits has been beneficial for 62% of those surveyed. Additionally, 82% of respondents reported utilizing two-way audio-visual communication.

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It has been overwhelming for hospice agencies to continue delivering face-to-face visits at skilled nursing facilities. Only a small portion (12%) of hospices were able to offer most of the in-person visits they aimed to give in skilled nursing facilities. Despite their best efforts, hospices were unable to replace in-person visits with virtual visits as much as they had hoped. Technology was able to provide some assistance to those receiving care in facilities. However, only 4% of those surveyed stated that it had fulfilled all the patient access needs.

Keeping a Record of Activities

Despite the changes that have taken place in many facets of care due to the coronavirus pandemic, the delivery of proper disclosures and the maintenance of precise documentation remains paramount. On its website, NHPCO offers a script that registered nurses in the role of case manager can use when engaging in a tele support call. The script provides exhaustive direction for nurses on how to carry out the tele support call, which disclosures to provide, how to inquire about information from patients and family caregivers, and how to direct the patient and employ the teach-back technique to confirm understanding.

Is Hospice Care Expensive?

It’s not. Medicare will cover Hospice 100%. If you do not have Medicare and Medicaid, you are covered 100%. Other insurance will provide Hospice services. However, there is a possible exclusion condition. It will pay for the costs when you have met that requirement and your insurance is in place.

Through careful planning and execution, telehealth can provide hospice patients and their families with knowledge, solace, and treatment while health professionals and attendants strive to oversee their health circumstances and reduce the risks of pandemics to everyone. Telehealth is an efficient option for Hospice patients as well as caregivers. It helps them deal with complicated ailments, medical regimens, and challenging prognoses, particularly regarding geographical restrictions and confusion about care plans.

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Hucu.ai can be adaptable, enabling our team to provide many medium-sized, small, and large companies with sophisticated security capabilities (e.g., multiple location control, user-level access, patient-centered messaging access, family messaging access, etc.). Hucu.ai can help with real-time problem-solving, communications with information sharing, and more. Directly with your patient and authorized family members through your Hucu.ai Family Channel, which is a Patient Family Channel located in the Hucu.ai app. Hucu.ai proudly partners with a number of innovative telehealth solutions, such as Zoom. Hucu.ai provides unique and convenient telehealth services for healthcare providers and patients, like telehealth flags, meeting ID attachments, and video telehealth sessions.

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