Evaluating Bereavement Operations - Questioning the Status Quo

06/11/15 Written by 

Bereavement services are a central component to hospice care, providing continued support for family and friends after a loved one has passed. Timely outreach, counseling, and group support are all extremely important for bereaved clients. Hospices that manage bereavement operations effectively and efficiently are able to place greater focus on guiding clients through the grieving process.

In talking with several hospices about how bereavement management is going for them, I’m surprised that so many initially say, “it’s going great!” When probing a bit further, I often find that there are disjointed processes with several workarounds in place to capture and track the necessary information for compliance and for providing outstanding care.

Some of the workarounds that I have encountered include:

  • Finding tricks to tie details for multiple bereaved clients to a single patient, and for hospices that serve community clients, differentiating these clients from hospice clients in an EHR system that doesn't accommodate either.
  • Hiring administrative assistants to enter and update client records, and to process and track correspondence.
  • Piecing together various reports and Excel spreadsheets to create summary reports to monitor and evaluate program utilization.

A bereavement management solution should accommodate the full scope of your bereavement program, which at minimum means effectively supporting all clients, including community clients. It should allow you to easily tie details for multiple bereaved clients to a single patient, and allow you to distinguish between hospice and community clients. However, you also need structured workflows and a central location to simplify capturing the bereavement assessment, outreach assessment, and progress notes for all clients. You should be able to determine a client’s risk score and manage clients based on follow up timeframes that your hospice establishes.

In addition to managing face-to-face counseling sessions, an effective solution will allow you to easily plan, organize, and track participation in group sessions, workshops and/or camps. Do you know where you are having the biggest impact and which groups are attended the most? This information will allow you to focus your group session efforts and better serve your clients. Don’t be afraid to change things up and try new formats. Test what works best, monitor participation stats, and evolve.

One of the greatest challenges that I hear from hospices is that they struggle with managing correspondence. Every hospice sends some type of follow-up letter, and most struggle with manually identifying recipients, creating the letters, and then posting the mail date to individual client records. This is often a laborious and time-consuming process. Deyta’s Bereavement & Counseling Management solution will improve efficiency by automating the identification of recipients and creation of the letters. It also allows for mail dates to be posted to individual client records with a single click. Hospices are able to get correspondence out the door in a timely manner and record the date sent so that all correspondence is well-organized within the client record.

Many hospices also struggle with compiling reports to monitor, evaluate, and report program utilization. To ensure that clients receive the attention that they need, it’s important to closely monitor counselor caseloads and compliance with your established guidelines to allocate staff appropriately. Another struggle is reporting program utilization and the value of services rendered. You should be able to track fees paid and owed, or attach a value even if a fee isn’t collected. Understanding referral sources is another pain point. Many hospices lack insight into their largest referral sources, finding it difficult to focus efforts in the right places to grow their program. Having access to detailed reporting and valuable insights will enable you to make ongoing refinements to your program, resources, and staffing to ensure that you are providing the best possible care and support to your bereaved.

Thinking about your bereavement program, what workarounds do you have in place? Do you have inefficient and multi-step processes in place? What are these costing your hospice? If you could streamline just a few of these things, how much time could you get back in the day and what would you do with that time? Are there initiatives begging for your attention? Could you better serve current clients and possibly serve more clients?

Bereavement services are an integral piece to providing quality hospice care. By investing some time to evaluate your current processes and implement new ways to become more efficient, you might find that you can provide even better care, and support and strengthen your hospice offering.

Deyta can help improve bereavement management!

Deyta’s Bereavement & Counseling Management solution provides a comprehensive system for managing all aspects of your program. Managing counselor caseloads, monitoring compliance, tracking participation rates, and measuring program performance has never been easier! Contact us to learn more at [email protected] or 888.893.1937 x151.

Sarah Balmer

VP of Business Development

Sarah Balmer is an energetic business professional and health advocate recognized for strategic thinking and versatility. Sarah joined Deyta’s business development team in 2008 to develop and launch Deyta’s HHCAHPS program.  Having also served Deyta in marketing communications and product strategy, Sarah aptly understands the macro trends in healthcare and their impact on day-to-day operations at the provider level. With a consultative approach, Sarah works one-on-one with large post-acute care providers to ask revealing questions, listening carefully to understand their unique business challenges. She serves as a trusted business partner to her clients to tailor the right technology and service solutions to improve operational efficiencies and accelerate performance.

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