Myth or fact? Physicians must sign every page of a home care plan

Tanya Albert Henry , Contributing News Writer

Physicians often hear conflicting instructions on how they should sign a home health agency plan of care certification or recertification, sometimes being told they need to sign and date every single page of the document.

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But does the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) really require physicians to take the time to go to those administrative lengths? The short answer is no.

“There is no CMS requirement specifying that physicians or allowed non-physician practitioners must sign every single page of home health POC certifications or recertification,” according to the latest research that the AMA has done through its “Debunking Regulatory Myths” series.

Instead, the individual home health agency is allowed to determine the document’s format and the way in which timely certification or recertification is obtained.

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When certifying and recertifying home health care plans, physicians and allowed nonphysician practitioners are often met with conflicting instructions on how the document should be signed.

“Signing and dating every page of a home health certification or recertification can unnecessarily add administrative work and consume time,” says the AMA explainer.

But the home health care plan includes links to resources that physicians can go to for more information or for printable information to share with colleagues. For example, CMS provides information about who may sign a plan-of-care certification or recertification, the timing of these documents and more at “Medicare General Information, Eligibility, and Entitlement: Physician Certification and Recertification of Services.”

The AMA’s own guidance, “How should physicians sign home care plan of care recertifications? (PDF), is offered in a format that is easy to share with colleagues.

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The “Debunking Regulatory Myths series aims to provide regulatory clarification to physicians and their care teams. It’s part of the AMA’s practice-transformation efforts and provides physicians and their care teams with resources to reduce guesswork and administrative burdens so their focus can be on streamlining clinical workflow processes, improving patient outcomes and increasing physician satisfaction.

Physicians can submit questions or ideas they have about regulatory myths by emailing the research and policy team

An AMA team will do research to determine the facts behind a regulatory question and whether it can be concisely clarified. If something turns to be a true regulatory burden for physicians and their teams, the AMA’s advocacy arm can get involved to push for positive change.

AMA member Kevin Hopkins, MD, primary care medical director at Cleveland Clinic and senior physician adviser for practice transformation at the AMA, and Lindsey Carlasare, AMA research and policy manager, talked about the series, discussed common regulatory myths and shared tools for eliminating guesswork and other administrative burdens during an AMA STEPS Forward®  podcast episode “Debunking Regulatory Myths.” Listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.