Emergency Preparedness Rule Hits Home Health Agencies For The First Time

The Home Health Agency (HHA) industry is going through significant changes in regards to regulations and patient preferences. CMS’s new Conditions for Participation (CoPs) for HHAs are full of new requirements HHAs must meet to remain compliant, including technical and patient engagement necessities. The new CoPs feature an unfamiliar rule to HHAs, the Emergency Preparedness Rule.

The Emergency Preparedness Rule requires HHAs to implement an emergency preparedness program by November 16, 2017. The program must describe the agency’s approach to meeting the health and safety needs of their patients during an emergency or disaster situation.

Emergency or Disaster Situations include the following:

  • Pandemic flu
  • Hurricanes
  • Tornadoes
  • Snow blizzards
  • Earthquakes
  • Power outages
  • Nuclear or biological terrorist attacks
  • etc.

The rule sets out to result in better coordination with emergency personnel and to protect patients in the event of an emergency. The Emergency Preparedness Rule has four key components:

  • Emergency Plan: Create a universal emergency plan that can be used in the case of any disaster, based on a risk assessment. Plan should be specific to agency’s geographic location and consider the type of disasters they are more likely to experience.
  • Policies and Procedures: Based on emergency plan and risk assessment, develop new policies and procedures.
  • Communication Plan: Develop a communications plan that meets both state and federal laws. Plan must include communication with patients, prior to a foreseen disaster.
  • Training and Testing Program: Once an emergency preparedness plan is created, agencies must maintain a training and testing program. Training must include initial training of old and new staff, followed by annual training.

One of the most critical elements of any emergency plan is the use of an effective notification system. CipherHealth’s automated outreach software, CipherOutreach, can assist providers in reaching out to 100% of their patients in the event of an emergency. CipherOutreach can inform patients on upcoming emergencies and help providers take the necessary steps to ensure that patients are prepared.

In the case of an emergency, CipherOutreach has the ability to:

  • Notify patients if there is a change in scheduling
  • Triage calls if patients are in need of items prior to emergency
  • Proactively contact patients to address questions or concerns during a disaster
  • Inform patients of emergency protocols

CipherOutreach’s multi-call option allows for frequent outreach throughout the day. The software offers various outreach modalities to contact patients including calls, texts, and emails. In the event of an emergency, it would be challenging to contact 100% of patients manually, especially in situations with small time frames. Using CipherOutreach maximizes valuable staff time and helps to make sure your patients have the knowledge and supplies they need to make it through an emergency situation.

For more information on CipherOutreach and how it can help you meet your emergency preparedness requirements, download CipherHealth’s Emergency Preparedness Program Overview.

CipherHealth empowers providers across the care continuum to deliver enhanced patient experiences and communications through a modular, comprehensive patient engagement technology platform.