Make it easy for physicians to know when it’s time for hospice

Although the country seems to be more comfortable with the need for advance care planning, particularly evident in the recent CMS decision to allow physician reimbursement for these conversations, let’s face it, many doctors remain uncomfortable with the idea of hospice or even discussing hospice care with their patients.

All too often, patients begin hospice care so late in their disease that they only receive services for a few days when they could have been experiencing improvement in quality of life and symptom management for much longer.

As hospice companies continue their efforts to educate physicians about the good hospice can do, it can be beneficial to use tools to help doctors know when it’s appropriate to refer a patient with a particular diagnosis.

These referral materials should include the hospice eligibility guidelines and the related tools needed to determine whether a patient meets the criteria.

TAG Partners has created several materials to help you in your educational efforts and help you accomplish your goals of building strong referral partnerships.

• Guidelines for Hospice Admission flip charts are among the most popular educational materials TAG Partners produces. These coat-pocket-sized coil-bound booklets cover the criteria for hospice admission for a variety of diagnoses.

• Hospice Pocket Reference Guides offer a condensed version of the eligibility criteria as well as information on pain management, common problems, commonly used medications and tips for dealing with difficult patients.

• The new Hospice Eligibility Quick-Reference Guide provides an at-a-glance single-sheet reference for desktop use.

All three materials include information about the New York Heart Association Functional Classification, the Palliative Performance Scale, and Functional Assessment Staging.

While you’re discussing hospice eligibility with physicians, make sure they know about the new advance care planning payment rule. Check out this blog entry for more information.

New Advance Care Planning rule means stronger physician partnerships

CMS has given patients an incredible gift with its recent decision to pay physicians for their time spent on advance care planning.

You already know how important advance care planning is for everyone — especially older adults with chronic health conditions. It’s time to make sure your referral community knows it, too.

Learn more about the recent Medicare ACP  rule here.

TAG Partners has developed a new educational guide your agency can use to educate physicians about the ins and outs of advance care planning. It includes information about billing for hospice patients, and an overview of advance care planning (ACP) billing and its CPT billing codes.

It also includes an at-a-glance look at the primary ACP documents (the living will, medical power of attorney, and “do not resuscitate” order) and guidance on why advance directives are necessary and what should be done with them.

It’s critical to the improvement of overall end-of-life care that physicians begin having these conversations much earlier in the disease process and much more often.

Make the commitment to educate your area’s physicians about the importance of ACP, as well as the fact that Medicare will reimburse them for time spent doing ACP.

Providing this information will help this group think of your agency when it’s time to make a referral.

It also will help your patients take a more active role in their care and become familiar with the language of end-of-life care and their own wishes before they are in the midst of a health crisis.