Home is where the healthcare is. Over the next two years, as much as $265 billion worth of care services — 25% of the total cost of care for Medicare fee-for-service and Medicare Advantage beneficiaries — is set to shift from traditional facilities to the home, according to McKinsey. With the senior citizen population fueling such significant growth in home care and the industrywide embrace of value-based care, having the right tools in place is vital to ensuring a better experience across the board.

One particularly valuable tool in the arsenal is Electronic Visit Verification (EVV). The 21st Century Cures Act now requires states to implement this technology for Medicaid-financed home healthcare services to avoid reductions in their federal Medicaid funding.  EVV solutions document the types of services performed, date and time of visits, the location of the service, and information about the service provider during home care visits. Using smartphones or tablets for real-time access to records, EVV enables cost-effective delivery of high-quality care and better patient outcomes.

While agencies adhere to implementation and usage so they don’t lose Medicaid dollars, EVV platforms ‌ actually can deliver several other practical benefits for all stakeholders — from the agency and home care providers to patients and their loved ones. From any angle, staying on top of EVV developments and utilizing updates to the industry’s advantage is essential, especially with rising service demands and unrelenting worker shortages. Though the reasons for leveraging EVV vary by role, there are distinct advantages accessible to each group within the home care ecosystem through this technology.

Operational efficiency and transparency through compliance

Having mobile tools to upload and document EVV data in compliance with federal regulations may require home care agencies to dramatically change their workflow. But once in place, there are many other tools within EVV platforms that can drive greater operational efficiency. These platforms can simplify scheduling, streamline billing and payment practices, and improve communication among the agency and its employees to facilitate better patient care. EVV can reduce paperwork and manual processes, which can lead to faster billing, reduced administrative costs, more accurate payroll, and better time management.

A study by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) revealed that EVV can save home care agencies up to 15% in administrative costs and improve the efficiency of the billing process. With these time savings, agencies have more hours to focus on what they do best: providing quality care to their patients. This is how the homecare industry elevates agencies and patient care to the next level.

EVV also increases transparency between agencies, caregivers and patients by providing real-time data on caregiver visits and activities. Better care communication can build greater trust in the process, which can ultimately improve patient outcomes and increase satisfaction. Access to detailed EVV records is also valuable for proof that all homecare visits were conducted properly according to time, date, frequency and reporting guidelines.

Paperwork reduction and proactive care

Demand for home care workers is growing, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics expecting a 25% increase in openings over the next eight years. Until the estimated 700,000 jobs for home health workers can be filled each year, those now in the profession will find themselves busier than ever before. EVV can help simplify caregivers’ workloads by eliminating multiple manual steps that have historically taken hours away from patient interactions.

Mobile access to health records and EVV tools enable caregivers to record information and observances immediately while with patients, rather than taking hand-written notes, completing forms, and filing data later — a time-consuming  approach that can result in errors and inaccuracies. EVV also supports the provision of value-based care by enabling caregivers to note social determinants of health that could impact a patient. With this information, caregivers focus on preventative efforts instead of reactive treatment. EVV can also measure the impact of these efforts, significantly shifting the industry toward a proactive approach, which is imperative to successfully scaling operations to keep pace with demand.

Improved safety and better outcomes

As more agencies and workers rely on EVV, home care recipients and their loved ones will see positive impacts as well. With accurate, real-time information in their hands, home care workers can focus on patients and more efficiently use their time to identify gaps in care. This reduces health complications and helps to minimize costs that could result from hospital readmissions or emergency department visits. EVV also can improve patient safety by verifying that caregivers are at the right location at the right time, helping to reduce the risk of abuse or neglect. It also ensures that patients receive the correct medication, therapy and other treatments as prescribed.

EVV allows everyone on a patient’s care team — doctors, home care workers, family and other caregivers — to stay up-to-date on a patient’s care plan and progress as patient information and updates are easily recorded and readily available. Satisfaction surveys that are integrated into many EVV platforms also can help gauge how accurately a patient’s service plan is addressing their needs and goals.

EVV may be required for compliance with federal laws if states want to ensure full funding for Medicaid-related home healthcare services. But the mandate to implement the technology can have long-lasting benefits that go beyond simply supporting regulatory compliance. When fully utilized, EVV platforms increase operational efficiency, improve caregiver accountability, communications and transparency, and enhance patient safety and care. This technology is the future of the home care industry.

Stephen Vaccaro serves as president at HHAeXchange, the leading provider of home care management solutions for providers, managed care organizations and state Medicaid agencies, where he leads the market strategy and national expansion of HHAeXchange’s state, payer, provider and fiscal intermediary portfolios. With more than 30 years of leadership experience in the healthcare industry, he has spent time on both the payer and provider sides of the market. He has a proven track record of success in executive leadership, sales, service delivery, strategic planning, project management, P&L management, product development and acquisition integration.