Hospice providers are tasked with providing high-quality, compassionate care to patients and families during end-of-life care. One of the key components of hospice care is the provision of skilled nursing and social work services through the Service Intensity Add-On (SIA) payment. However, many hospices may be underutilizing the SIA benefit, leading to missed opportunities for improved patient outcomes and increased reimbursement. 

The SIA program was introduced in 2016 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide additional payment for nursing and social work services provided during the last 7 days of a patient’s life. The payment is equal to the Continuous Home Care (CHC) hourly rate multiplied by the hours of nursing or social work provided (up to 4 hours per day) that occurred on the day of service, if certain criteria are met. This additional payment incentivizes hospices to provide more intensive and focused care to patients during the final days of life. 

Why is SIA Underutilized in Hospice Care?

Despite the availability of the SIA program, hospice providers often underutilize this valuable resource. There are several reasons for this underutilization, including: 

  1. Lack of awareness: Hospice providers may not be aware of the SIA program and the benefits it provides to patients and families.  
  2. Lack of documentation: Hospice providers may not document the level of care required to justify the use of the SIA program. 
  3. Fear of audits: Hospice providers may be hesitant to use the SIA program for fear of audits and potential recoupment of payments. 
  4. Geography and staffing shortages: Patients in rural areas may have limited access to clinicians who may be traveling farther between patients’ homes. Hospice programs in areas with staffing shortages may struggle to meet the criteria for SIA reimbursement due to a lack of available nursing or social work staff. 

3 tips for hospice providers to improve their utilization of the SIA program:

  1. Use predictive analytics tools: One way to identify patients who may be eligible for SIA services is through predictive analytics tools like Medalogix. These tools can help hospices identify patients who are at a higher risk of dying within the next 7 days, which can help providers prioritize care and ensure that eligible patients receive the full range of SIA services. 
  2. Train staff on SIA criteria and documentation requirements: Hospice providers should ensure that their staff is familiar with the SIA criteria and documentation requirements, so that they can accurately document and bill for eligible services. This may include providing additional training or resources to staff members who are less familiar with the SIA program. 
  3. Monitor SIA utilization and outcomes: Hospice providers should regularly monitor their SIA utilization and outcomes, including the number of eligible patients who receive SIA services and the impact of SIA services on patient outcomes. This can help providers identify areas for improvement and ensure that they are providing high-quality, cost-effective care to their patients. 

Contact McBee today for a complimentary analysis to understand how to improve your SIA reimbursement, HVLDL and increase revenue.

Written by Candice Hardy, Manager, Advisory Consulting

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