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Maintaining an Accurate Patient Census

Facing rising costs of care and potential changes to reimbursement, many care at home providers are looking for ways to reduce costs while providing high-quality care. One area providers can evaluate to mitigate revenue changes is their census data. An accurate census will help organizations avoid missed visits, ensure timely submission of documentation to receive full Medicare reimbursement and make the best strategic decisions for the sustainability of the business.

It may feel daunting to comb through all the patient data within your healthcare technology solution. These strategies can help providers check their information and correct any inaccuracies.

Discharged Patients Not in Discharged Status

One of the more common ways a provider’s census may be inflated is when discharged patients are not fully discharged in the software solution. An example is when a discharge document is sitting in the QA Center and delaying a patient’s automated status change in the software. Another example is when a patient transfers prior to the end of an episode. In that case there also could be a manual step to change a patient’s status to “discharged” that some staff members may be forgetting to complete.

Reports can assist organizations in finding these census discrepancies. Keeping a careful watch on the survey census by date will ensure that there are no errors or duplicate admissions. The open OASIS report can help administrators find documentation that still needs to be completed to fully discharge a patient within their system. Other reports, such as past due recertifications and inpatient facility hold list, can help find transferred patients that should have been manually moved to a discharge status.

Errors in Data Entry

Another area where care at home organizations can manage their census is checking for errors in a patient’s status due to data entry issues. For example, additional admission periods still in active status can cause a patient who has been discharged to still show up as active in an organization’s census.

These errors can also occur when a patient is set to an active status within the software prematurely then moved back to pending without removing the episodes. This could cause an additional admission period.

Another example would be when a start of care assessment has begun but the patient was not admitted on to service and the patient was not manually moved to a non-admit status.

Software Transitions

When a healthcare organization transitions from one software provider to another, there is room for error in transferring the data. When organizations perform a data load from a previous software, it is important to look over the data and make sure patients with an active status reflect current admissions. Additionally, if any training patients were created in the software to help staff members learn the new technology, administrators should make sure those test patients are marked as discharged so they do not reflect in the organization’s census.

When care at home organizations keep accurate census records, they can ensure timely completion of Medicare documentation, appropriate staffing levels and high-quality care. Data is only helpful when it is accurate, so it is worth the investment to double-check information and processes.

Axxess Home Health, a cloud-based home health software, includes HIPAA-compliant documentation capabilities on all devices, even without internet access.


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