This article is sponsored by Enclara Pharmacia. In this Voices interview, Hospice News meets Deanna Douglass, SVP of Business Development at Enclara, to find out how hospice service providers are navigating the new regulatory climate from 2022 onwards, hospice staffing challenges and l Enclara’s upcoming E3 Pro application.
Hospice News: What work experiences do you draw the most from in your role today?
Deanna Douglass: As a clinical pharmacist, I have had the opportunity to work in a variety of care settings, providing clinical services for hospice, retail, hospital, and long-term care. I have also served as a consultant where I actively participated in meetings of the interdisciplinary team of a specific hospice and contributed directly to each patient’s care plan.
Working in the hospice-specific pharmaceutical benefit management space for nearly 20 years, I have had the opportunity to follow the evolution of the hospice industry and changes in the regulatory environment.
What is the biggest problem hospice leaders face in 2022?
Douglas: The number one issue we hear universally, regardless of whether it’s big or small, for profit or not, is the staff. There are many factors behind this, but the challenge itself is universal for all hospices, at all levels of care. Part of what we do at Enclara Pharmacia is to help hospices work more efficiently so they can make the most of their human resources. We design our tools and services around the needs of hospice nurses, ultimately supporting greater job satisfaction.
Starting in September, participation in the so-called Carve-in Medicare Advantage will double in 2022. What must hospice service providers do to make it happen?
Douglas: They need a plan. It sounds simplistic, but it is very true. They need a plan in terms of how they will participate in a Medicare Advantage plan, but also how they will be accepted as a network provider. Having a way to set yourself up for success and show your value as a supplier is critical. This comes from obtaining strong results that validate the quality of care they are providing to patients enrolled in their specific hospice.
Hospice comes with a variety of business models, ranging from small non-profit organizations and sole proprietorships to large corporations. How do these models coexist going forward?
Douglas: Everyone needs to focus on quality of care first and foremost. All groups are involved together as we move forward in the new regulatory environment. As everyone acclimates and aligns their goals, we can coexist by managing our patients and businesses well.
What are the main factors that you believe will influence the changes next year, not only in hospices, but also in home care?
Douglas: One of the biggest factors is the labor shortage. It is difficult for hospices to provide quality care when they do not have enough people to maintain and grow their census. I also believe that technology will continue to play an important role next year. Mobile solutions are critical to providing hospice nurses with consistent access to drug documentation and management systems wherever they are.
In the nonprofit space, we are seeing many moves with consolidation and affiliations. This presents a challenge for smaller nonprofits, which include small entities and ramifications of health systems that weren’t really looking to grow on a large scale. We are seeing more cooperation in that area, with many organizations coming together under one umbrella.
We are conducting this interview just a few days before Drug Takeback Day and we know that leftover medications are a particular challenge in hospice. How can families best manage the destruction of drugs and drugs remaining after the death of a loved one?
Douglas: Offering drug disposal is a necessary part of any hospice program. Each hospice is required to have a disposal and destruction plan that it can put in place during discharge visits. Enclara is currently working on a partnership that will help customers further simplify documentation related to drug disposal or destruction.
Above all, we want to educate families about drug disposal and encourage them to forgo drugs upon patient discharge.
Enclara is preparing to launch a new version of its E3 drug and patient management platform. How will the new version of this platform benefit hospices and hospice nurses?
Douglas: The new version of Enclara’s drug and patient management platform will be called E3 Pro and will launch in early 2022. It will benefit hospices in a variety of ways, whether they use Enclara’s mail-order program or entrust to local pharmacies.
We have worked to develop a more intuitive user experience where nurses can see everything they need to know at a glance. They get a customized dashboard that provides better access and visibility into the status of existing orders, including the items they need to act on. Our development team listened long before starting the design process, and feedback from nurses was incorporated into every step of the process.
Entering this year, no one knew what to expect in the hospice industry. What was the biggest surprise and what impact do you think this surprise will have on the industry in 2022?
Douglas: It’s been such a crazy and unpredictable year, but I think the staff shortage has been truly surprising. In 2022, hospices will focus heavily on engaging and hiring new staff, as well as retaining existing staff at all levels of patient care. We are supporting these efforts in a number of ways, including the much shorter learning curve of the E3 Pro and our new At Your Pace Learning Center, which provides a more robust platform for our learning materials.
Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Enclara offers the most comprehensive technology and service solutions in hospice, with pharmaceutical solutions and interoperability support that improve operational efficiency. To know more, visit enclarapharmacia.com.
The Voices series is a sponsored content program with prominent executives discussing trends, topics, and more that shape their industry in a question-and-answer format. For more information on Voices, please contact [email protected]