How Technology Can Help Advance Hospice and Palliative Care

As the long-term care industry moves toward value-based care, hospice agencies are taking notice. Shifting expectations and an aging population means hospice providers may see an increased demand. By implementing technology that allows for seamless continuity of care, providers have access to more information, allowing them to focus on their main priority – providing the highest quality of care for patients.

PointClickCare has entered an agreement with Curantis Solutions, the software solutions company focused exclusively on serving the hospice and palliative care sector. The agreement will strengthen the existing relationship between the two companies and will help give palliative caregivers the tools and support they need to provide exceptional care.

We sat down with John Carreker, Founder and CEO of Curantis Solutions, to discuss some of the challenges facing hospice agencies, and how technology can help solve those problems.

Q: Tell us about Curantis and its key features.

A: Curantis was founded five years ago to be the best hospice management system in the industry. At the time, there was a deficit in the market of EMAR hospice management systems that were built for hospice. A lot of the systems were adapted from home health and other sectors, so it was a very underserved market. We founded the company with that mission and strategy in mind. We built it from the ground up with a plan of care centric, team-based workflow. We wanted to bring valuable data to hospices so they can run their companies well and manage clinical requirements and compliance requirements efficiently.

Q: What should healthcare providers look for in a hospice solution?

A:  They should look for a hospice management system that was built to accommodate the needs of the hospice workflow. The hospice industry has a capitated reimbursement model and so it has to accommodate efficiencies for the big five costs that hospices manage, which includes labor medications and DME medical supplies and mileage. It should have a rich UI that enables optimal charting in the field and at the bedside. It should also have a rich business intelligence and data analytics focus to enable them to have information to manage good quality of care for their patients.

Q: How do home care and hospice care intersect and overlap with one another?

A: Hospice is not a diagnostic discipline like home health. If you have a home health patient that transfers to hospice, that’s where you have some synergies like the face sheet data or med supply. You have to know what the patient’s history is, and that’s one of the powerful synergies with PointClickCare and Curantis. There are a number of patients that transition into hospice out of home health and that’s where a number of our clients in the hospice sector offer home health as another line of business. Hospices are now choosing the combination of Curantis and PointClickCare because we can bring that continuity of care together.

Q: How can technology improve hospice operations and the overall quality of care?

A: There’s a lot of data loss between EMRs; they do not integrate well because of the lack of standards and protocols. If you have two EMR companies like PointClickCare and Curantis, that are committed and intentionally trying to figure out how to make a seamless continuity of care, it’s going to be very powerful. A lot of EMRs are competing against each other so they’re not inclined to work together. It’s all about creating a great experience for the patient and the family, and I think we can make a huge difference.

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing hospice and palliative care providers?

A: I really think it’s three things. First, there’s continued cost pressure with rising labor costs and meds among other things. The revenue models are also fairly fixed. Most providers are driven by the Medicare rates, which are one or two percent per year, and expenses are going up faster than that. Providers are constantly challenged to do more with the same level of resources.

Another big challenge is compliance. There are a lot of surveyors in the market and there’s a need for those, but there’s discontinuity in terms of the types of audits and surveys that hospices are hit with. Compliance is unpredictable for many providers, and there are a lot of ways they can get hurt from a financial and brand standpoint with some audits that may hit them.

The third biggest challenge is the role hospice plays in the post-acute continuity of care. Hospices save Medicare money, and it is a very underutilized asset, but they do not have the lobbying strength that hospitals do. The value proposition of hospices isn’t understood very well, and it’s in a fragile state, but it doesn’t have the voice that some of the other sectors do.

Q: How do you see value-based care models affecting hospice and palliative care?

A: If you really think about the reimbursement model for hospice it’s very different than the rest of healthcare in that it’s capitated. It has to do everything with a fixed revenue stream. It brings tremendous value to patients and their families already, and in some ways the hospice sector is further down the path to value-based care than volume-based, compared to most of healthcare. It’s what drives their incentives. They obviously want to grow, and they want to get as much revenue as they can, but at the end of the day hospices do well because they do a high quality job for the referrals that they get from hospitals, doctors, and nursing homes. The ones that do well do so by building a great brand in the market. They do that by providing a high level of service for the patient. There’s more and more indication that the hospice sector is already very value-oriented in terms of the service that they’re providing.

Check out the Curantis Solutions website to learn more about the company and their role in advancing hospice care.

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