A Second look at HealthCare First (Home Health, Hospice, Billing and Coding)

I looked at HEALTHCAREfirst a little over a year ago when we started publishing reviews. Since that time, the company acquired Lewis so I contacted David Garcia to find out what had changed and how  this acquisition affected function.

This is a review of the Home Heath application called first HOMECARE.  I also took a peek at firstHOSPICE and discussed the Billing and Coding services offered by the company as well.

I must say I’m pretty impressed with the upgrades they’ve made since my last review. They seem pretty focused on improving workflow integration.

Let me explain a little about what I consider “workflow integration” (all “solution providers” have a different definition to that term, so its important to get clarification). Integrating workflow means that the solution is developed to PUSH data to certain users at certain points, instead of a user having to understand what report to run to PULL data out of the database.

A good example of this is integrating the workflow so that anytime an OASIS is marked by the clinician as completed, an alert will be sent to the QA Manager, Supervisor, Administrator, whoever you choose) that it is ready to be reviewed. As opposed to the manager having to run a series of reports throughout the day to determine which OASIS needs to be reviewed, or which visits need to be scheduled, or which visits were missed, or what orders are not back signed, etc.

What this means to the agency is that a person hired in a clinical manager position will not require as much technical training (how to run reports, enter paramenter, etc) You will notice this most when a key position decides to take a vacation, or fall apart. You don’t have to train the substitute to run reports to figure out whats going on…because the workflow is integrated.

I said all of that to illustrate the value of the upgrades that have been happening over at HEALTHCAREfirst. They seem to really understand that the intrinsic value of a nurse manager is not in their ability to write a query, but in their ability to analyze the clinical data to make a decision about care. (what a concept!)

HEALTHCAREfirst has a soft spot for start ups. After payment of the first monthly subscription, the fledgling agency can use the software to manage those “charity” patients that are required to demonstrate compliance with Medicare Conditions of Participation. So after that initial monthly fee, you only pay $100/month until you reach Medicare certification and then the monthly fee ranges based on agency census. (Ranges, but generally not more than $1500/month). This break in period is an excellent time to really maximize your investment in the solution and realize how far you can go before having to add staff (for filing, billing, QA, etc) .

I think it is super important that users of any solution have access to each other.

(If I were coordinated enough to raise one eyebrow when I hear of solutions that don’t provide users access to each other I would. However, both my eyebrows go up and I just look surprised, instead of suspicious!)

HEALTHCAREfirst has a robust user group and there is no better resource than another user! HCFprovides education every other week via webinar to share best practice and pearls of wisdom, not just about their software, but industry hot points. Also, check out their blog (I’m a subscriber) The latest entry-linked above, is about nursing assessment and coding.

Suffice it to say, I’m glad I gave Healthcare First a second look. You know, they all say they are user-friendly, to which  I respond it really depends on the friendly user. But HCF was really intuitive and if you have any experience with email and Windows based applications you won’t even need a user manual. It’s one of those programs you just need to get in an start clicking.

I took a sneak peek at firstHOSPICE and was surprised to hear that it was developed from the ground up. So often, software companies take their hospice functions and put them on a home health chassis. (that’s an automobile reference!) and it just doesn’t work properly. HCF didn’t do that. They just started from scratch, and used the experience from their own network of hospice providers for direction.

The framework is designed to support the interdisciplinary nature of hospice and support the team communication and IDT functions required by Medicare. I’ll be getting a more in-depth look a the Hospice application in the near future and will write about it again.

Lastly, HCF offers Billing and Coding Services. These are in addition to the software solution, or you can use the Billing and/or Coding services in conjunction with any other software.

When you think about how much it costs to hire a biller, and how difficult it is to manage a biller (when you don’t know enough about the job to oversee effectively) It REALLY makes sense to outsource these functions. (There are plenty of billing services that can get you in some trouble, so they require vetting too) but HCF Billing services are a great solution for new agencies that do not have personnel with the skillset and to allow the company to utilize resources in the growth of the agency.

Coding services can be arranged for complete coding of every episode to just coding those episodes that you need a little support on.

Contact David Garcia at david.garcia@healthcarefirst.com to learn more about those services or to run through a demonstration of how easy it is to navigate HEALTHCAREfirst!



  1. This is very interesting, You are a very skilled blogger. I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your excellent post. Also, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks!

  2. Tammie Slaughter says:

    We have recently gone live with FirstHospice. I would love to connect with other users to discuss processes.

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