Office, Furniture and Equipment Requirements to Start Your Home Health or Hospice
The first step to starting your home health agency is finding the perfect office space! Based on your State, there are different office considerations. Because home health agencies and non-institutional hospice care agencies don’t see patients in their office, CMS hasn’t provided any structural requirements for the HHH office space. While there may be some form of requirements from your State’s Department of Health, most States don’t have any requirements besides the company being in an office building. However there are States like Texas that allow owners to run home health and hospice agencies out of their homes. Here’s a complete list of office space, furniture, equipment, technology and office supplies to set up your start up home health and hospice agencies and be ready for your initial surveys.
There are a few things to consider when selecting your office, however…Here they are:
Two Room Minimum
You want to make sure there are at least two rooms. Since you’re going to be dealing with patient information, there needs to be a physical barrier between where your patient charts are kept and the main entrance. It’s also important to have a place people can go to have a private conversation that others can’t hear.
Some States, like California, have a lengthy application approval process, while other States, like Michigan, don’t require any form of licensing survey to start a medical home health agency or hospice company. You want to factor the amount of time you will be covering rent, into the equation. Many start up agencies rent tiny offices to save money while they go through the licensing and accreditation processes, and then move once they have their billing numbers. If you’re in a State like California, you will likely pay rent without seeing a single dollar for 2-3 years.
Even though your office will probably be empty from a few months to a few years while you’re in the process of getting your billing numbers, you still need to furnish it. Just like with your office, there are limited requirements but here’s what we suggest to our new clients.
Home Health and Hospice agencies need to have at least two lockable filing cabinets, one for patient charts and one for HR files. The cabinets need to have separate keys to ensure that the people who have access to one don’t necessarily have access to the other. Each cabinet needs to have at least two separate sections; the patient cabinet is divided into active and discharged charts, while the HR cabinet is divided for employee files and employee medical information. Since employee health information falls under HIPAA, you want to make sure it’s locked as well. If your office space has a separate room with a door lock, you can skip the patient cabinet and designate the room as your Medical Records room. In this case, you can place one lockable HR cabinet inside and stay compliant.
Your staff will need to sit down with the surveyor multiple times during the survey. A conference table isn’t required but it’s helpful. Conference tables don’t need to be large, as long as they fit at least 4 people; the Surveyor, the Owner, the Administrator and the Director of Nursing. These four people (or their designees) need to be at all surveys and will be part of the intro and outro sessions each time. Often the surveyor is also seated at the conference table, so that they have space to lay out all the documentation presented to them during survey.
Desks and Chairs
Desks and chairs. Your office needs to look like an office, even if you don’t expect a survey for a few years. Applications can process slower or faster depending on various factors and you want to be ready in case yours is approved sooner than expected. Have a couple work stations ready so you have time to focus on more important aspects of survey prep.
You want to have one fire extinguisher in your office. You can hang it anywhere in the office. This one is small, inexpensive and works on Class A, B and C fires.
It’s really important that you have all the basics in place during survey. Sometimes, a functioning internet and connected printer is the difference between getting a deficiency or not. Here’s what you need during survey:
Internet is the most important technology requirement for survey. Even if you feel you’re totally ready, there’s always a big chance that the surveyor will ask for something you may not have, or that the surveyor will interpret a regulation differently than how you’ve prepared it. In those cases it’s vital to have an internet connection to be able to research and adjust things on the spot.
You don’t need a super computer, but you need something. Buy something inexpensive but fast. You will be using your computer for basic processes like Microsoft Word, Adobe Reader and the internet for your online software. Here’s a good and inexpensive computer that will fit your needs.
This computer is well-rated and inexpensive.
It comes with free Amazon Prime shipping.
For the price you get the computer, screen, wireless keyboard and wireless mouse.
The best part is that the computer is inside the screen so you’re saving space.
If you have decent internet, purchase a wireless printer. Wireless printers give you the option of connecting with a wire or through the internet. It allows you to connect multiple computers without worrying about networking your office. As a start up company, networking is too costly to both set up and maintain. Another benefit of wireless printers is if your consultant comes with their laptop, they can easily set themselves up without having to disconnect your computer. Color printers are a little more expensive but it’s worth it as you can print your own business cards and tri-fold brochures from the office instead of costly printer fees.
This is a wireless color printer.
The display shows you how much ink you have left so you can easily replace.
It allows for mobile printing which means you can print documents directly from your cel phone.
This is the printer’s ink cartridge/toner replacement link for easy re-order.
Many people purchase one or two phones for their office as part of the office set up. You don’t necessarily need to connect them or pay for a phone line but it looks good to have. Cordless phones are easy to use, especially for a start up. Here’s a well-rated and inexpensive option:
You want to have basic office supplies in your agency at the time of survey. Here’s a list of basics with links for purchase:
Of course you’ll need basic writing supplies. Purchase a few pens, pencils, highlighters, note pads and post-its.
It’s best to chart on paper for your survey so you can choose which files the surveyor is looking at, instead of giving them unlimited access to your software. For basic charting, you’ll need various folders and binders to keep paper charts. You’ll also need to purchase one 3-hold puncher, one 2-hole puncher and paper.
One inch binders are used for active patient charts.
Two hole file folders are used for DC patient charts and HR files.
10 ream case of basic paper for printing.
Three hole punchers are used for hole punching documentation for active patient charts.
Two hole punchers are used for hole punching documentation for DC patient charts and HR files.
You can have one desk organizer per workstation to keep your office looking nice and clean for your inspection. After all, you want to put your best foot forward! Here are a few options, based on your visual preferences :)
There it is, the complete list of how to set up your office to pass the initial home health and hospice surveys!