2018 will be a big year for EVV in home health care

 In Healthcare Trends

With new advances in technology regularly emerging among various industries, it's no surprise that 2018 will be a big year for transformative medical device solutions. According to Home Health Care News, this year in particular will be substantial for electronic visit verification in home care.

According to Texas Health and Human Services, EVV is an electronic system that uses telephones and computers to verify services visits as they occur, while documenting when the service begins and how long it lasts. It also documents the individual who received the service, plus the date and location that it was provided. Essentially, EVV is designed to improve operational efficiency and service delivery. The government also believes this solution will reduce fraud and abuse cases.

Meeting the 2019 deadline
According to the 21st Century Cures Act, EVV must be used by all care providers that work with Medicaid-reimbursed homes by Jan. 1 of 2019. The Cures Act ensures the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services complies with this EVV mandate, encouraging all providers to become familiar with and make use of the system in the coming year.

"CMS guidance encourages providers to use an 'open model' framework."

This guidance also encourages providers to use an "open model" framework, which gives them the opportunity to choose from various EVV systems that have met necessary requirements. The "closed model" option is more limited – the state implements one EVV systems and mandates the provider to use it.

"There's little doubt that the 'open' approach is best for the industry, in terms of care provided, the effects on providers as businesses, and the likelihood of successful implementations by year-end," Mark Battaglia, CEO and president of CellTrak, told HHCN.

Potential problems along the way
The problem many service providers are finding, however, is that the language in the 21st Century Cures Act might be what's holding them back from using an open model and utilizing EVV right away.

"I don't think [the Cures Act] was trying to prohibit an open model, but it's a little more technically complicated," Darby Anderson, executive vice president and chief development officer at Dallas-based Addus HomeCare Inc. told HHCN. "We're hoping that in the guidance, CMS creates a pathway [and clarifies] how you apply for those federal matching funds in an open model."

Financial incentives may be another fallback. Service providers are worried that home care companies may not receive a cut of the government money that supports EVV systems in an open model. Anderson stated a provider that opts out of the closed system should not have to pay 100 percent of the costs.

"The easiest way to handle this is some sort of rate increase, specific to EVV, that will then go into your federal matching claim, and go to the provider to at least partially offset their costs for running an EVV system," he said. "I don't think the rate increase has to cover 100 percent [of EVV costs], which my competitors don't like to hear me say, but to be fair, we shouldn't expect the state to pay for the efficiencies that accrue to us through EVV."

No matter what, states will be expected to finalize EVV policies in the next year to meet the 2019 deadline. The year is going to be busy with implementation and system testing.

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