Update your complaint process: New CoP requires investigation, documentation

The following is from Home Health Line. For more news and information on home health and hospice, visit homehealthline.decisionhealth.com.

Agencies should educate staff and patients now to ensure compliance with new complaint process expectations outlined in the revised Home Health Conditions of Participation (CoPs).

There’s plenty of work to do between training and tweaking certain forms, policies and possibly your entire complaint process. So agencies shouldn’t wait to prepare until interpretive guidelines are released late this year, says Joan Usher, president of JLU Health Record Systems in Pembroke, Mass.­­

When the complaint process portion of the revised CoPs takes effect Jan. 13, 2018, agencies will be required to inform patients within the notice of rights — and verbally — how to report a grievance with the agency.

The new regulations also put the onus of dealing with complaints squarely on the home health agency administrator’s shoulders, says J’non Griffin, owner and president of Home Health Solutions in Carbon Hill, Ala.

The patient must be told specifically the contact information for the agency administrator including the name, business address and business phone number. The administrator is responsible for how the complaint is investigated.

The patient also must be informed about the state’s toll-free home health telephone hotline and given its contact information, its hours of operation and an explanation that its purpose is to receive complaints or questions about local agencies. This line usually goes to the state’s Health and Human Services division. Agencies should educate patients that the hotline is not for the agency itself, Usher says.

Note that the CoP doesn’t advise on how agencies must investigate complaints. The types of investigations likely will vary depending on the type and severity of the complaint.

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