Software and Services for Home Health, Hospice and Healthcare Facilities

Face to Face Documentation for Home Health Certification

6/13/2013 HealthWare Misc. 1 Comments

Physicians play a key role in determining and documenting the medical necessity for home health care for Medicare beneficiaries. We encourage physicians who certify the need for home health care to review this article carefully. As a physician, you are responsible for providing appropriate, accurate supporting documentation of your face-to-face encounters (FTF) to your patients regarding home health care.

Analysis of the recent errors identified by the Comprehensive Error Rate Testing (CERT) Review Contractor shows a continuing increase in denials related to documentation for the FTF. The most common error is insufficient documentation of clinical findings by the physician/non-physician practitioner (NPP) to show:

  • - The encounter was related to the primary reason for home care
  • - How the patient’s condition supports the patient’s homebound status; or
  • - How the patient’s condition supports the need for skilled services

Acceptable FTF documentation does not have to be lengthy or overly detailed. However, the FTF documentation must show the reason skilled service is necessary for the treatment of the patient’s illness or injury, based on the physician’s clinical findings during the face-to-face encounter, and specific statements regarding why the patient is homebound.

Below are examples of FTF documentation that, used alone, are considered insufficient documentation.

 Homebound Status Need for Skilled Services
Functional decline Family is asking for help
Dementia or confusion Continues to have problems
Difficult to travel to doctor’s office List of tasks for nurse to do
Unable to leave home Patient unable to do wound care
Weak Diabetes
Unable to drive  

Examples of appropriate documentation include:

  • - Wound care completed to left great toe. No s/s of infection, but patient remains at risk due to diabetic status. Skilled nurse visits to perform wound care and assess wound status. Patient on bed to chair activities only.
  • - Lung sounds coarse throughout. Patient finished antibiotic therapy today for pneumonia, and to see pulmonologist tomorrow for follow up due to COPD and emphysema. Short of breath with talking and ambulation of 1-2 feet. Nurse to assess respiratory status for s/s of recurring infection/ changes in respiratory status.

Who May Document the FTF Encounter?
The FTF encounter must be performed by the certifying physician, a physician who cared for the patient in an acute or post-acute facility during a recent acute or post-acute stay and has privileges at the facility, or qualified NPP working in conjunction with the certifying physician. An NPP in an acute or post-acute facility is able to perform the FTF encounter in collaboration with or under the supervision of the physician who has privileges and cared for the patient in the acute or post-acute facility. That NPP can then report the FTF encounter to the certifying physician.

To view this entire article, and for more information regarding Medicare guidelines for FTF encounters, Click Here.

Share This Content:


Leave a Comment