CNS adds teeth to discharge planning process

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

WASHINGTON – An “impatient” CMS has sent a strong message to hospitals that they must take post-acute care providers more seriously.

The agency in November published extensive proposed regulations that seek to make the discharge planning process more comprehensive and open the door for more back-and-forth between acute and post-acute care providers. One regulation would require regular re-evaluation of a patient’s condition to identify changes that require modification of discharge plans.

“What CMS wants is collaboration, not a one-time referral,” said healthcare attorney Elizabeth Hogue.

The proposed regulations also, among many other things, expand the discharge planning process to include all inpatients; all outpatients receiving observation services or undergoing surgery or other same-day procedures; and ER department patients.

Hogue says the only way hospitals will be able to meet these regulations is if they tighten their relationships with all types of homecare providers—home health, private duty nursing, hospice, and yes HME.

“There’s no way to do it without that,” she said.

Hogue recommends HME providers use the proposed regulations as a talking point with discharge planners about how they can make compliance easier.

“I’d say to them, ‘Here’s what’s coming. You need us. Let’s start talking about how we can help you meet these requirements and meet the needs of patients,’” she said.

Though the regulations are just proposals at this point, Hogue expects them to stick.

“CMS has been talking about this for some time,” she said.

Hogue added: “I’ve been saying that home care is the future of health care in this country, and I was wondering for awhile, but darned if I’m right.”