For home health and hospice clinicians and other field staff, tracking mileage is a crucial part of the job. Usually, employees record odometer readings from their personal vehicles and submit reports of miles driven to and from patient visits. These reports go to agency finance or accounting departments, where they are verified and approved for reimbursement. It’s a relatively simple process, but it can be a frustrating and costly one as well.
For field staff and clinicians, recording odometer readings and tracking mileage is a burdensome chore that takes time from their day. It’s also easy to forget, which can lead to estimates and inaccuracies. The process can be equally burdensome for agencies. Verification of submitted reports can be timely, and inaccurate reporting is costly. In addition, while many errors and inaccuracies are due to honest mistakes, the self-reporting of mileage can be an invitation to fraud.
Luckily, there’s a better way. New mileage tracking software automates mileage calculations to ensure accurate, reliable reporting and reimbursement. It saves time for clinicians and field staff, and it saves time and money for home health and hospice agencies.
Automatic mileage tracking logs point-to-point, trip by trip mileage calculations for field staff. It accommodates agency visit and commuting policies and tracks visit travel, and then uses mapping software to calculate the mileage for each trip.
While there are dedicated mileage and reimbursement software systems available that can be integrated with your agency’s EMR system, Thornberry Ltd. has built automated mileage tracking capabilities right into the NDoc® EMR system, without the need for third-party integration. Mileage traveled to visits is automatically recorded, calculated, verified, and submitted directly within the NDoc home health or hospice EMR.
How does automatic mileage tracking work?
In NDoc, automated mileage tracking happens “behind the scenes,” starting with parameters set up in the system that mimic agency policy and create an algorithm for the first and last trip. Agency policies address many reimbursement specifics:
- Are field staff paid from home to first visit, or from office to first visit? Are they paid for the commute from home to office?
- Are field staff paid from last visit to home, or from last visit to office? Or are they paid nothing after the last visit?
- Is field staff’s office defined by the agency address, or by a different location?
- Should mileage be rounded? If so, should this apply to each visit or daily total only?
- Is field staff’s travel day defined by their last visit or by a specific time?
NDoc includes an employee home address table. Patient addresses—both home and visit—are verified with census.gov at agency registration.
Here’s how it works:
- When a clinician or other field employee documents a patient visit, the system references the agency, employee, and patient address tables to determine the starting and ending points for that visit (a designated visit address will override a permanent address for mileage tracking).
- Additions and adjustments to automatic mileage calculations are entered by the employee during visit charting (a trip to the pharmacy for needed supplies; a different route to patient visit address due to construction, etc.).
- Verified starting and ending addresses and charted adjustments are sent to a mapping service (GraphHopper) for automatic mileage calculation.
- The total miles for the day are calculated automatically, through visit charting (automatic mileage calculations and documented adjustments), in conjunction with the agency policy algorithm.
- Accounting or finance departments use the calculated/adjusted mileage totals for timely reimbursement.
Automated mileage tracking benefits employees
There are many benefits to automated mileage tracking. For clinicians and agency field staff, it saves time and simplifies mileage reporting.
Odometer recording is tedious and time-consuming, and it’s easy to forget. Once forgotten, it requires estimations or mapping calculations that add time and stress to an already busy schedule. With NDoc, clinicians and other caregivers don’t have to think about their visit mileage and they can’t forget to log odometer readings. Through visit documentation and agency policy, the system automatically calculates each trip and reports the exact distance covered, reducing the need for manual data entry (although adjustments can be entered as necessary).
Clinicians don’t need–and therefore can’t forget–to submit their mileage totals, either. Mileage is saved to visits automatically as they are charted, which saves clinicians and field staff even more time and ensures more timely mileage reimbursement.
For employees who may be worried about privacy and security, NDoc automated mileage tracking does not utilize GPS tracking and does not record personal travel miles.
Automated mileage tracking benefits home health and hospice agencies
Automated mileage tracking saves time for agency finance or accounting employees as well. Visit mileage is calculated automatically through visit charting, and agency policies are automatically enforced due to the policy algorithm, which simplifies the payroll reimbursement process.
Agencies will see the biggest benefit in their bottom lines. Automated mileage tracking means that agencies no longer need to rely on employees to submit mileage data. It virtually eliminates the errors, estimates and inaccuracies commonly associated with odometer logging and ensures accurate, reliable mileage reporting.
More accurate mileage calculations mean more accurate reimbursement, and agencies can reduce mileage expenses by up to 25% with automated mileage tracking. Indeed, by agreeing to implement automatic mileage tracking, agencies are agreeing to pay less than is commonly reported by employees using odometer readings.
St. Joseph’s Home Care in Syracuse, NY, was the first home health agency to roll out NDoc’s new automated mileage tracking. “We’ve been using the capability for a few months now,” said Art DeGirolamo, Director of Finance at St. Joe’s. “Comparing NDoc’s automated mileage calculations with manual mileage totals, it looks like we’ll be saving approximately 20% in monthly mileage expenses.”
With automated mileage tracking, agencies can:
- reduce or eliminate estimated odometer readings, resulting in more accurate and reliable mileage data
- reduce or eliminate additional costs associated with inaccurate, estimated or fraudulent odometer reporting
- avoid under-reimbursing for mileage (less common), which can be a violation of labor laws and put agencies at risk for lawsuits
- have access to reports of mileage by visit and patient
- have a more accurate picture of agency mileage expenses
“We strive to remain responsive to the evolving needs of our agencies with innovative technology and unparalleled customer support,” said Thornberry President and CEO Tom Peth, “and we are always looking for ways to make life easier for clinicians in the field. Automated mileage tracking is a time- and money-saving enhancement to the NDoc EMR system that benefits both agencies and clinicians.”
“We’ve been on board with Thornberry and NDoc for over 20 years,” DeGirolamo added, “and they’re always looking for ways to improve their product. This is just the latest in a long line of helpful enhancements.”