The controversial face-to-face encounter requirements have been the subject of concern for many home health care organizations, whose staff and physicians must complete hours of “burdensome” paperwork to comply with the new regulations, industry professionals say.
But with a surge in the use of electronic health records, a product has emerged that is helping physicians and home health agencies navigate the Affordable Care Act’s murky waters.
SutureSign, developed by Suture Health, Inc., is an electronic signature platform that, at its core, allows physicians to sign orders and fill out face-to-face documents for their home health care agencies to retrieve.
“Paperwork is the number one barrier to physician utilization of home care,” says Dr. Michael Blackstone, CEO of Suture Health. “By reducing the paperwork burden and adding value to the physicians’ time, we’ve increased the efficiency in which documentation is returned and thereby improving the operational efficiency of the industry.”
SutureSign has a network of more than 3,000 physicians, 650 physician practices and 200 home health agencies, and has processed 7,500 face-to-faces since its launch in November 2011.
Unlike other e-signature platforms, SutureSign allows a physician to use a single login to access all documents for any agency they work with, as long as the agency is in the SutureSign network.
For North Carolina-based WellCare Home Health, SutureSign reduces some of the existing inefficiencies in the home health care industry, as well as those created by the face-to-face requirements.
“Anytime you’re in an electronic world, it only helps facilitate the flow of information, decrease duplication of medical documentation, and helps you keep up with health regulations,” says Wanda Coley, chief operating officer of WellCare. “Anytime you can make things simpler in the complex world of health care, you want to be able to do that.”
Coley says SutureSign eliminates the possibility that home health agencies might be sending duplicate documents to physicians to sign. Before, paperwork may have gotten misplaced at the physician’s office or delayed in the mail, but the e-sign platform gets rid of that hassle.
“It even reduces the paper for us [as a home health agency], because we’re not having to print the orders for these physicians, mail them and put postage on them,” she says.
The physician turnaround is quicker and more compliant, Blackstone says, shortening the agencies’ billing cycles that may be held up by improper documentation.
This e-signature platform bills itself as the only “library-driven” face-to-face tool reviewed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
On face-to-face documents, physicians can pick from a list of reasons to explain why their patient requires home health services.
“Physicians aren’t used to explaining why they make their decisions — they don’t really understand how to properly document what CMS is requiring,” Blackstone says. “So we built a library-driven tool that allows them to [complete] their documentation while also educating them on what the proper documentation should be.”
Written by Emily Study