Home Health Agencies Use Technology to Fight Fraud

As Medicare fraud prevention has become a hot topic within home health in the last couple of months, agencies and advocacy groups alike have been searching for ways bolster industry integrity.

Some home health companies are looking toward technology to do their part in the crusade against Medicare fraud.

In Michigan, Optimal Care, Inc., a home health agency based in Bingham Farms, has adopted a electronic health record-keeping system to log visits of its care aides.

Using the VisitVerify mobile application from Austin, Texas-based Kinnser Software, enables Optimal to not only keep electronic proof of clinicians’ visits, but also allows point-of-care billing to Medicare for the services provided to the company’s patients.

After three months of implementing Kinnser’s VisitVerify, Kathryn Bartz MA, CTRS, ACC-I of Optimal Care says the technology has made a “big difference” in fostering communication between various health providers, whether in the home health or hospital setting..

“Some home health agencies see patients, but don’t know how to treat them necessarily,” says Bartz. “[VisitVerify] cuts down on errors, so if another care provider asks about a patient, you can pull up that person’s information.”

This coordination of care is critical, says Bartz, especially as Optimal Care is concerned with keeping its patients out of the hospital.

Clinicians or home health aides using the VisitVerify software can click on a “hotbox” icon, which includes a time and date stamp, as well as a GPS-enabled tracker that shows their location.

These features provide only part of the technology’s two points of verification, according to Chip Schneider, creative director with Kinnser. The other point of verification includes the signature of a patient or family member to verify that a home health visit had occurred.

“There’s not only a compliance value, but also a procedural and quality care kind of value,” said Schneider on the use of electronic health records.

Enhanced productivity is another added bonus in shifting from paper to electronic record-keeping, as VisitVerify helped reduce one Arizona home health agency’s payroll processing time by 75%.

“Paper is a hugely inefficient way of documenting healthcare and communicating healthcare,” said Schneider.

This correlates with the studies that have shown paper reports are 30% less accurate when filed out later in the day, which is when many caregivers filled out paperwork under the old paper record system, according to Coleen Murphy-DeOrsey, RN, COO of Optimal Care.

EHR technology that can be completed at the point of care, rather than outside a patient’s home or inside a caregiver’s care after a visit, also allows for quicker communication relay between caregivers, clinicians and family members.

“It’s a seamless, immediate process,” said Schneider.

Kinnser currently has 112 agencies using its VisitVerify software across 15 states. Of those agencies, there has already been a total of 110,000 visits verified using the app since the technology launched in April, according to Schneider.

Currently, VisitVerify is compatible on iPads and Android phones, mostly because of a screen-size issue, according to Schneider. However, Kinnser has not ruled out the possibility of developing the visit verification tech for iPhone devices.

As the company continues to offer its software-as-a-solution technologies, it anticipates more home health companies will be willing to roll out VisitVerify as a means to protect themselves against fraud, while also increasing productivity for its workers in the field.

“Preventing ‘visit fraud’ is something that’s important to the home health industry,” said Schneider. “Vendors and agencies are actively and proactively doing something to reduce fraud anywhere they possibly can.”

Written by Jason Oliva