KLAS: Homecare faces challenges with interoperability, data sharing

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Enterprise software vendors in the homecare segment have a long way to go before they are consistently helping their clients achieve interoperability and share data with hospitals—and, thus, meet Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requirements. That's according to a recent KLAS report, “Homecare 2011: New Expectations, New Market Energy.”

“There is a gap across the market,” report author Erik Bermudez said in a statement. “Usually enterprise vendors have an interoperability advantage, but that is not the case yet in homecare. Only a couple of vendors are sharing data with affiliated hospitals and clinics—and even they don’t do it well.”

Of the homecare vendors evaluated for the report, Homecare Homebase scored highest overall with a score of 90.6, followed closely by Delta Encore with 90.3 and then jumping nearly ten points to Allscripts Homecare and CareAnywhere Homecare Solutions, both with overall scores of 80.5.

With a large and growing number of Medicaid patients receiving homecare services, the CMS is able to maintain strong oversight of the homecare market through regulations and reimbursement requirements, according to the Orem, Utah-based research firm. Best-of-breed vendors scored the strongest across the board in the homecare market for meeting CMS regulations, but lacked offerings in the way of interoperability.

The disparity in scores indicates clear leaders in homecare services, according to KLAS.

“Best-of-breed vendors Delta, Homecare Homebase and Thornberry lead performance scoring. Other vendors’ scores group the bottom of the ladder, with no one in the middle,” the report states. Additionally, keeping up with government regulations has been complex for both providers and vendors. “All vendors have to make their system compliant for their clients to succeed with CMS billing, but some are better than others. Best-of-breed vendors Delta and Homecare Homebase do it best, while enterprise players Cerner and Meditech struggle the most.”

CMS requirements for homecare agencies include OASIS-C reporting, face-to-face encounters, new therapy requirements and HIPAA 5010, according to KLAS, and providers are increasingly seeking interoperability to share patient data with their EMRs. According to KLAS, only 15 percent of homecare agencies interviewed were sharing data electronically with other hospitals, despite that 60 percent of those interviewed were affiliated with a hospital.

The report also evaluates point-of-care devices and identifies which ones providers are primarily using. Laptops still dominate the market, while paper, smartphones and tablets are also used. Meanwhile, the market for telehealth may be less than predictable, with many providers unable to justify a large up-front purchase with unclear returns on investment.

“Changing market energy centers around how healthcare reform will impact home health. Healthcare reform has heightened interest not only in homecare, but also its interoperability for delivery models focusing on the continuum of care and value-based purchasing,” the report states. “In response, vendors providing homecare automation will be forced to apply resources to areas that otherwise may have been on the sidelines—whether that be CMS regulation or interoperability.”