In the real business world, controlling costs and bottom lines is often the difference between failure or success — particularly for small to mid-sized firms.

That’s why Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) is becoming a world-beater choice in commercial applications; it’s ability to improve efficiencies and help agencies become profitable, according to experts presenting at the 2018 EVV Summit during the breakout session, Streamline Agency Management Through Integrated EVV.

Panelist Roger Lopez, Chief Operating Officer at Bay Shore DuraMedical compared the components of EVV to components critical to the success of any business. There are always three in any operation: technology, process and legal, he said. 

“When you put those three together, and they overlap is when you have a business transformation,” said Lopez, who has a background in manufacturing.“ My goal has always been to improve companies, to take them to the next level, and get employee involvement. How do we improve customer service levels? How do we improve efficiency and effectiveness?”

The Importance of Efficient Business Practices

The importance of improving efficiencies played out in real life for presenter Rob Gehman, SVP of Continuous Improvement at Maxim, where electronic caregiver reporting by nurses is voluntary. He noted that Maxim experienced fraud before he was brought on board, adding that the company grew too fast before all systems were in place. Timesheets for services not provided were submitted, it wasn’t caught and cost the company dearly. Now they have a world-class compliance program in place.

“It’s part of our DNA and culture; EVV fits perfectly into that — when you get to any size, you have to be able to catch these things and prevent them systematically. Without that, you have a lot of people checking and rechecking paperwork. From an overhead perspective it just makes complete sense to move to a more electronic method.”

Panelist Linda Donev, Vice President of Home Care Solutions at MatrixCare, said she has clients that will be mandated to implement an EVV system in January. In terms of best practices, “change management is the hardest thing for everybody,” she said, adding that caregivers are more comfortable reporting on paper, and that their 9 to 5 timesheets were on time, every time. “Now they are accountable, there’s compliance and there are issues. So, change management and keeping on top of your caregivers is the biggest issue that we’ve experienced.”

The other would be making big decisions on how to implement EVV. Agencies need to decide what it is they want, whether that’s simple electronic check in and check out to comply, or something more, and understand that revamping the entire collection process demands a good strategy.

Important Considerations for Integration

Additional considerations from an operational standpoint include costs, user-friendly system design, determining what percentage of caregivers have a smartphone and are willing to use it, and legal policies regarding GPS. “We had to be able to adapt,” said Gehman, whose firm developed an in-house EVV system five years ago. “We integrated with Tellus in Florida. That partnership has gone beautifully.”

“You really need to make sure you select a product that goes easy on the training,” Donev added. “In skilled care you might need more training — training on how to handle the problems or reimbursing the caregivers.”

There are other HR challenges occurring, said Lopez. After addressing the costs of implementation, he had to deal with the reluctance of home health workers to embrace EVV technology. The concern was, if it was made mandatory, the caregiver could leave for another company that’s not using EVV. Or worse, they would take their clients with them.

“It’s hard to hire people and keep them,” he said, noting many are technology-challenged. “There’s that hesitation, that change management component. Instead of a piece of paper, you’re giving them a device that has GPS locating.”

Moving Forward with EVV

Despite the inherent complications of moving from paper to mobile, operations managers need to understand the cost-effectiveness of EVV as a care delivery tool since it eliminates waste, redundancies and costly mistakes.

Lopez said he tried to implement EVV for seven years with no success.

“I found a way to get an ROI, and to get the CEO and CFO to buy in.” That ROI came after partnering with the Tellus team and finding a telephone provider, which came with a deal with Sprint, he said.

The consensus among the panelists was that EVV technology should be in place before the 21st Century Cures Acts deadlines hit, that systems should be data-driven and that keeping clients at home should be part of the solution to improve their quality of life.