Many people would prefer to spend the last days of their lives in the comfort of their own homes. With a hospice business, you could help these families fulfill their wishes. Before you begin, you must understand the difference between a home health agency and a hospice agency. Home health agencies may provide long-term care with nursing and therapy services under the order of a physician. Hospice care provides care to patients who are terminally ill, and includes physical, emotional, and social therapy, as well as services for the patient’s family.

If you’d like to begin the journey so that you can make a difference in hospice patients’ lives, here is what you must do.

Getting the Right Credentials

Before you can launch your business, there are a few credentialing and licensing steps you’ll need to take. First, you’ll need to register your business as a legal operating entity. You can do this by incorporating your hospice business in your state and applying for your license. Next, you’ll need to apply for your Tax ID and NPI number. You’ll also need an Employer ID Number, or EIN, as well as a state tax permit.

Medicare certification is voluntary, but you must be certified if you plan to serve patients who are eligible for Medicare. Several documents are required for your application, including a Home Health Enrollment Application, a Health Insurance Benefit Agreement, and a Hospice Request for Certification in the Medicare Program. After submitting your application, you will then undergo an initial certification survey.

With your general business requirements out of the way, you can focus on the accreditations and credentials necessary to provide care to hospice patients. You should investigate the requirements for accreditation with the ACHC (Accreditation Commission for Health Care), CHAP (Community Health Accreditation Program), and the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.

Training Your Employees

While your staff members will likely be trained healthcare professionals—especially if they will provide patient care—additional training will be necessary to ensure you meet all requirements for remaining compliant with your credentials and accreditations, not to mention healthcare laws on the state and national level.

To abide by Medicare Conditions of Participation, hospice employees must receive training on the hospice philosophy, specific job duties, hospice industry standards, and infection control. Hospices that provide direct care must also train staff on a disaster plan, use of restraints, and seclusion implementation.

Your staff members should have extensive knowledge of patients’ rights, abuse and neglect, communication with patients and family members, disease and culture-specific issues, and identifying and reporting ethics issues.

Additional training may be required according to various accrediting organizations, such as the Joint Commission. This will most certainly include training on HIPAA privacy laws and information security.

Understanding the Business

As you’re aware, running a successful hospice agency requires more than paying for your license and gaining the proper credentials. Caring for patients is a difficult job that requires immense organizational skills, a knowledge of business practices, and a thorough understanding of the policies and procedures necessary to protect your patients while meeting strict local, state, and federal guidelines.

You’ll also need to prepare for yearly surveys, maintain the latest manuals available, and manage billing and pre-billing. It’s a lot to consider, but fortunately, assistance is available.

Working with a Consultant

When you work with a consulting firm like Forte, you can gain the benefit of decades of knowledge in starting and maintaining a successful hospice agency. Our experts can help you from the very beginning, walking you through the licensing and credentials you’ll need. In many cases, we can provide the paperwork you’ll need, saving you hours and costly mistakes.

If you’re looking for a consulting partner to help you get started, look no further. Reach out today.