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HCCI House Call Practicum™ Helps Set Providers up for Success

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Learn more about the HCCI House Call Practicum™ from one of its recent participants. The program offers a unique two-day ridealong, an individualized educational experience offering learners the opportunity to shadow both direct clinical care and back-office practice support.


Home-Based Primary Care (HBPC) describes the field of providing quality medical care in the home to patients who have difficulty obtaining, or are completely unable to access, office-based primary care. This is typically because they are frail, chronically ill, functionally limited and/or homebound. This type of care can provide many benefits, including the reduction of emergency room visits and hospital readmissions, along with improving overall health outcomes and reducing health care costs. One of the main goals of the Home Centered Care Institute (HCCI) is to educate providers and practices in providing HBPC, oftentimes referred to as “house calls.”

The HCCI House Call Practicum™, one of HCCI’s educational offerings, allows participants to acquire new knowledge and skills in house call operations and clinical care for medically complex patients in the home. For those considering adding house call services to their practice, the Practicum illustrates key fundamental processes, systems and approaches. For those already practicing HBPC, the Practicum provides an opportunity to improve upon what they’re currently doing by learning directly from leaders in the field.

Earlier this year, Lynn Simpkins, Nurse Practitioner, Bon Secours Health System, participated in the Practicum with Cleveland Clinic, an HCCI Center of Excellence for Home-Based Primary Care and Practice Excellence Partner™. Simpkins has built her 30+ year career as a family and geriatric nurse practitioner and is currently focusing on home-based care. She recently shared takeaways from her Practicum experience with HCCInsights.

HCCInsights: What are some challenges that you face daily with your HBPC practice?

Simpkins: Like most providers, we have the challenge of a sick patient population but with the added complexity of providing those patients with care in a home setting. Social, financial and unique medical challenges all play into what we need to address.

HCCInsights: Why did you decide to participate in the HCCI House Call Practicum?

Simpkins: In addition to the challenges I mentioned, during my work with our HBPC program, our practice has grown more than threefold. This growth has been amazing but posed challenges for us in keeping up with the demands that come with that success. Seeing how Cleveland Clinic manages its patient population of over 2,500 individuals helped me to find ways to apply a similar approach that will work for our team and allow us to successfully scale our program.

HCCInsights: What was Day One of the Practicum like?

Simpkins: I spent most of the first day with a nurse practitioner in the field going on house calls. My first impression of Cleveland Clinic’s program was that everything — systems, care, planning— seemed to be calm and seamless.

The technology used, including the software, also set the team up for success to best serve patients. It allowed the nurse practitioner I shadowed to be much more efficient because she was not constantly asking and answering questions through chats or over the phone, having to chart in another system, or needing to deal with connectivity issues.

It was also good to see how they managed one challenge associated with house calls that we previously faced – namely scheduling. We were giving our patients specific appointment times.  However, it’s difficult to correctly estimate the amount of time needed to treat cases while factoring in traffic and other unforeseen circumstances. This led to us often being late. The Cleveland Clinic team schedules appointments in four-hour windows, which gives the provider some breathing room.

And, most important, the patient care during the house calls was, in a word, “fantastic.”

HCCInsights: After the first day, it sounds like you had a good sense of Cleveland Clinic’s care model. What did Day Two offer?

Simpkins: I spent time in the practice’s office with an administrator learning about their systems, guidelines, safety protocol, and more. This body of work is the core of what makes them so successful and able to offer great care. The administrator I worked with was so giving of her time and very transparent, which helped me see the inner workings of their processes and procedures.

I also had the chance to get a good overview of their back-end practices, such as how a referral is sent, how they handle emergencies, and how they manage their monthly staff meetings and training schedules. I also saw how their nurses triage patients over the phone to determine if they need to go to the hospital or can be cared for by an HBPC provider. Plus, I learned a lot from their billing team about their practices.

HCCInsights: What were you surprised to learn during the Practicum?

Simpkins: One of the most surprising, yet incredibly useful, things I learned about, as I mentioned previously, was their block scheduling in four-hour increments. In the past, we had many patients refuse appointments because the proposed times didn’t work for their schedule. Cleveland Clinic sets visit expectations with their patients from the beginning. It was clear that block scheduling benefits both patients and providers.

HCCInsights: Were there any learnings from the Practicum you were able to implement right away in your practice?

Simpkins: Yes, we started reviewing some of our procedures right away, like our safety guidelines, and began to apply what I learned. We have also continued to implement the teachings from the Practicum throughout the year. For example, right now, we are working to move nurses away from scheduling so that they can focus solely on clinical work.

HCCInsights: What would you tell future Practicum participants?

Simpkins: The program is very worthwhile no matter what stage of practice you are in – because the activity is very individualized. For example, if you are currently offering HBPC, it gives you an opportunity to improve. If providing home care is new to you, you can begin with strong principles and practices from day one.


To learn more about the HCCI House Call Practicum™ program and/or register, click here. There’s also an optional one-day Telemedicine Elective shadowing opportunity, also presented by Cleveland Clinic, that can be added on to the two-day Practicum, or attended on its own.

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How to Confidently Get Reimbursed for Prolonged Services (Non-Face-to-Face)

Since January 1, 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has authorized payment for CPT codes 99358 – 99359 for prolonged services non-face-to-face (F2F). When used correctly, this is a significant reimbursement opportunity for Home-Based Primary Care (HBPC) providers.

The CMS national payment rate for 99358 is $113.52 (the rate for 99359 is $54.78) with a Relative Value Unit (wRVU) of 2.10. This provides payment for the extensive medical management that occurs outside of the F2F visit. Although the use of these codes offers financial benefits, many practices continue to have concerns and/or questions regarding the services, leading to these codes being underutilized.

To help you receive the appropriate amount of reimbursement for the work your providers are doing under these codes, review the below requirements and apply them when appropriate:

  • The provider’s work is payable for both the office and outpatient setting (e.g., home or domiciliary visits, hospital, and nursing facility).
  • Time guidelines:
    • The billing physician or other qualified health care professional must spend a minimum of 31 minutes beyond the typical F2F time associated with the service as time directly related to an Evaluation and Management (E/M) F2F visit.
    • This time must be beyond the usual service time a provider would spend with the patient.
    • The provider must document why the service went above the normal time and effort.
    • The non-face-to-face time may occur on the same or a different date (i.e., before or after the visit) as the E/M F2F visit, if the documentation references the primary service it’s related to.
    • The exact amount of time spent must be documented in the medical record; the time does not need to be continuous (e.g., 20 mins in the AM and 15 mins in the PM), however, it must occur on the same calendar date.
    • The total time cannot be a compilation of times added together from various calendar days.
    • The service provided cannot be reported for time spent in non-face-to-face care described by more specific codes having no upper time limit within the CPT code set.
    • CMS notes that, while the typical CPT threshold times are not required for billing prolonged services, it is expected that only time spent in excess of these times is to be reported under CPT codes 99358-99359.
    • Per the CMS Claims Processing Manual, start and stop times are required for documented time (Page 83 of the manual: The start and end times of the visit shall be documented in the medical record along with the date of service).

In summary, your documentation should include start and stop times that show a minimum of 31 minutes spent on time directly related to an E/M visit. If the time occurred on a different date than the visit, you must reference the date of the F2F service and include a brief description of how that time was spent (e.g., nature or topic of what was reviewed or discussed).

In addition, CPT codes 99358-99359 cannot be reported during the same service period as the following due to similarity in service. As of 2020, however, prolonged services will be unbundled with transitional care management services, meaning they can be reported within the same calendar month:

  • Chronic Care Management (CCM)
  • Transitional Care Management (TCM)
  • Care Plan Oversight (CPO)
  • Anticoagulation Management
  • Medical Team Conferences
  • Online Medical Evaluations

For additional reference, the National Government Services (NGS) offers the following examples of appropriate uses of CPT codes 99358-99359:

  • Extensive medical record review directly related to an F2F encounter
  • Extensive telephone time with the patient and/or family that directly relates to an E/M encounter
  • Family/caregiver meeting, even without patient involvement but directly related to an F2F encounter

While these guidelines may seem challenging, you can tackle them by creating a Macro within your Electronic Health Record (EHR) that your providers can use for documentation purposes. In addition, you can create a back-end charge review rule to ensure the work does not get billed out during the same calendar month as other bundled services.

The time you invest in understanding these guidelines will assist in exponentially growing financial benefits for your practice.


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International Workshop Shows How Small the World Really Is

GSA 2019 International Workshop on Home Care Medicine

On Friday, November 15, over 45 professionals in the field of gerontology attended the first-ever International Workshop on Home Care Medicine in Austin, Texas, as part of the Gerontological Society of America’s (GSA) Annual Scientific Meeting. The GSA describes itself as “the oldest and largest interdisciplinary scientific organization devoted to the advancement of gerontological research, learning, and practice.”

Recognizing the need to expand the “home care medicine conversation” globally, GSA invited the Home Centered Care Institute (HCCI) and American Academy of Home Care Medicine (AAHCM) to develop and co-lead the workshop. The session brought presenters together with participants from countries around the world, including Canada, China, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United States.

Aaron Yao, PhD, lead researcher for HCCI and Cheeloo Scholar Professor at Shandong University in China, played a key role in organizing the workshop. The program was designed to present recent trends and developments in home care medicine, facilitate the building of strategic partnerships to address global challenges, and provide an opportunity for peer networking.

The workshop was made up of four panel sessions featuring participants from different countries and allowed for extensive Q&A. The four panel themes were Service Delivery and Interprofessional Care, Technology (Mobile Diagnostics, EMR) in Home Care, Payments and Revenue Models, and Workforce Education and Training.

When asked what stood out most for him about the program, Yao answered, “The workshop’s message to me was simple but powerful – that aging has no borders and that great minds think alike.”

Melissa Singleton, Chief Learning Officer, HCCI, also found unique value in the event, “Having the chance to hear people from around the world talk about this growing and much-needed field of medicine reminded me of how very much alike we all are. Of course, each country has its own methodology, such as how they train providers, their payment models, and so on. But, even with that, finding our commonalities and sharing best practices make the world a little smaller, the challenges more manageable and the opportunities for collaboration even greater.”

The GSA workshop was not HCCI’s first appearance on an international stage. A little over a year ago, Yao facilitated an invitation for Dr. Thomas Cornwell, Chief Executive Officer of HCCI, to teach at the Shandong University School of Healthcare Management. Since then, much of HCCI’s curriculum has been translated into Chinese, and a total of 1,250 Chinese providers have been trained by HCCI faculty. The recent collaboration for GSA was an opportunity to bring Dr. Cornwell and HCCI back together with colleagues at Shandong University, as well as to meet new leaders in the field from around the world.