At Home with The Joint Commission

A discussion highlighting developments in home health, DMEPOS, hospice, pharmacy and personal care.

Telemedicine for Hospice Providers

04/15/2020

Robert Campbell, PharmD, director, clinical standards interpretation for hospital/ambulatory programs 

Editor’s Note: This blog post is part of The Joint Commission’s daily communication on issues relevant to organizations managing the COVID-19 pandemic. The full list of FAQs is available here. All examples are for illustrative purposes only.

Is it acceptable, in lieu of notifying the physician when visit frequency orders are not being followed, to update the frequency orders to read something like, “May conduct virtual/telemedicine visits if unable to visit patient in his/her home”? If so, is it necessary to update all related hands-on treatment orders associated with the visit frequency included in the plan? Examples may include:

  • weekly weights
  • vital signs
  • pulse oximetry
  • lab draws
  • dressing changes
  • catheter changes

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has stated that hospice providers can provide services to a Medicare patient receiving routine home care through telehealth, if it is feasible and appropriate to do so.  In addition, hospice providers can utilize telemedicine for their required re-certification visits.

Home Health Agencies
For home health agencies (HHAs), CMS has stated more services to beneficiaries can be made using telehealth, so long as it’s part of the patient’s plan of care and does not replace needed in-person visits as ordered on the plan of care.

Orders need to accurately reflect the care to be provided by the staff and the current frequency the patient is being visited.

Organizations that use Joint Commission accreditation for deemed status purposes should monitor the CMS website as waivers are being approved frequently and may include state-specific waivers. 

Additional Resources

The Joint Commission: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance and Resources

Robert Campbell, PharmD, is director, Clinical Standards Interpretation Hospital/Ambulatory Programs and director, Medication Management. Prior to these roles, he served as the pharmacist for Clinical Standards Interpretation in the Division of Healthcare Improvement at The Joint Commission. Campbell also surveys as a field representative for The Joint Commission in the Hospital Accreditation and Critical Access Hospital Accreditation Programs and is a reviewer in the Medication Compounding Certification Program. Prior to joining The Joint Commission, Campbell worked in health care organizations and held leadership positions with oversight responsibilities for performance improvement, accreditation readiness, risk management, infection control, medical staff services, as well as inpatient and outpatient pharmacy services.