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What it means for your facility

(5/4/2020)

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has recently relaxed safety rules to reduce regulatory burdens on healthcare providers during this crisis. These changes involve more flexibility, such as what is considered a hospital bed, how closely some medical professionals are monitored and the types of health care that can be delivered at home. These relaxed regulations also allow for non-medical facilities, such as gymnasiums or hotels, to be used by hospitals if needed without the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) being involved. CMS notes in a press release that these are “historic and unprecedented steps to equip the American healthcare system with maximum flexibility to respond to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”

These temporary changes are reported to last the length of the national emergency. By waiving these rules, healthcare systems have been able to focus primarily on providing quality care for patients. Makeshift hospitals have been popping up across the country, and our facilities teams have been working overtime to quickly transform empty hospital wings into isolation wards. One of our teams even helped to convert a convention center into a field hospital with 1,100+ beds.
 
Another part of the changes is eliminating paperwork requirements to allow clinicians to focus on providing care to patients. This advances their existing “Patients Over Paperwork” initiative, which establishes processes to streamline regulations and reduce unnecessary burdens. Larry Lacombe, our Vice President of Program Development & Facilities Compliance, has shared his insights on putting patients over paperwork and how healthcare facilities can take advantage of CMS’ reduced burdens.
 
CMS is known for assigning star ratings to more than 4,500 hospitals nationwide with the HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) survey. CMS has reported that they don’t plan on making changes to the measurement period and data if there is no safety risk from COVID-19 to collect the data. If the outbreak leads to CMS only focusing on essential functions, they will plan to use the 2020 star ratings for 2021. You can read more about changes to the star ratings in the Medicare Advantage and Part D Plans by CMS.
 
Access to telehealth services for individuals with Medicare has also been expanded by CMS. This means many people can now receive care where they are, whether that be at home or in an assisted living facility. CMS is paying for an additional 80 services to be provided via telehealth. This includes emergency department visits, discharge visits, and more.
 
Here at Medxcel, we are so proud of all of our dedicated associates for working around the clock to create safe and healthy environments for all patients, staff and visitors. With the new flexibilities in CMS guidelines, our teams will continue to put patients first and do our part in combating the spread of COVID-19.