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Over the course of home health agency (HHA) industry growth, which has traditionally been a hands-on, in-person type of business, operations have been shifting to more automated core operating functions, such as payroll software and other technologies. By doing so, HHA owners and their care providers are offering greater qualities of care, as well as fewer challenges when it comes to payroll processes.
Having a distinct payroll system in place is key to avoiding payroll headaches in the home health industry. If your precious time is being dwindled away by dealing with your home health agency’s payroll hassles, you might want to read up on ways to move past certain costly dilemmas.
So in this blog, I’ll review major time snatchers when it comes to HHA payroll and ways to dial it down – which is essential for maintaining market competitiveness brought on by the increasing demands of in-home patients and their families who are served in the industry, as well as staying compliant regarding new home healthcare standards and regulations.
Non-Automated Payroll Systems
Fortunately, web-based software has become more attainable, easier to use, and more affordable for HHAs. Its functions are many, and here we’ll tune into some things to consider about payroll tasks, whether you have an automated system in place or whether you don’t.
For starters, does your agency’s current way of doing things capture all necessary payroll information for care providers and other staff, such as overtime, travels expenses, etc.? Or is your payroll person manually adding overtime, adjusting for sick days off, scheduled vacations, and other work deviations? Talk about a time waster.
Even if you are using something like QuickBooks for payroll services, just remember: one size does not fit all. Outside vendors can come in handy here, if even to custom tailor your payroll platform to capture the finer details exclusive to HHAs.
Are your computer servers on site? If so, it may be advisable to consider a software vendor to eliminate the hassles and costs of server maintenance and storage.
Do you want to offer your staff the ability to send in electronic time sheets over their smartphones? I say you should.
With a solid, finely tuned and automated payroll system in place, redundant tasks can be automated, which is going to free up more time for everyone and save the agency money. It’s also going to cut down on costly and time-consuming payroll mistakes.
But Buyer Beware: Fortunately, there are a few good software providers out there where you pay for only those services you need in order to keep your HHA payroll-and-billing compliant, operational, and effective. Many others will offer you bunches and bundles of services that you really don’t need.
Many of us deem ourselves as great communicators. Are we giving ourselves too much credit? In the HHA setting, the more communication, the better. If there is a lack of knowledge about what all involved parties understand? From home health aides to families, your agency’s processes, payments and payroll issues can become muddled and messy.
It’s hard to gather all employees under one roof on a regular basis since your nurses, therapists, and nursing assistants are a mobile group. Consider sending out automated time sheet reminders as well as other email communications regarding policy and procedure changes. This can be a great big plus for any HHA, and an outside vendor can help you with that.
Know Your Accounting
If you do not consider yourself an accounting expert, now might be the time to brush up on the basics. If you have a designated accountant, make sure he or she briefs you on the basic workings of the system. If they need time off, or become otherwise employed, their communications with you should have been more than on a need-to-know basis.
Does your accountant or other payroll staff have holidays down? Merging holiday time and personnel’s days off is one of the biggest time suckers for all payroll employees. Planning direct deposit cut-off dates (along with sticking to a consistent timesheet due date, no exceptions) and days off are essential.
Any host of auditors can pay your free-standing agency a visit, especially in light of the fact that HHAs are subject to many more regulations than a decade ago, even increasing tremendously over the past few years. Once again, automated, web-based services are really the only way to go here. Not only can they flag data entry errors and other payroll discrepancies, they can cut down tremendously on audit preps or producing documentation for legal purposes.
Fair Labor Standards Act
In the state of Texas, minimum wage is $7.25. Prior to an enactment on January 1, 2015 by the U.S. Department of Labor, those offering companionship services to home health patients generally did not fall under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Due to these FSLA regulation changes, current laws mandate paying home health companions and home health aides at least minimum wage. Here it is vital that all HHA payroll systems implement the scope of every new regulation.
FLSA further dictates that hired companions who are living with elderly patients – or working lengthy weekend shifts, for instance – must now also be compensated accordingly to include overtime pay. Is your system in sync with these FLSA regs? And does it auto-track posted shifts for the purpose of reducing unemployment claims’ exposure?
Labor attorneys and unions are more closely scrutinizing non-medical home health agencies. Should legal problems arise, which they most definitely can and do, is your current payroll system protecting you in this way?
If you already enlist an outside software provider, is your vendor well versed in the FSLA regulations? If so, how does their payroll software pertain to new federal regulations under Obamacare? And how does it enlist system and regulatory updates?
Carefully Select Your Vendor
If you choose an outside IT provider, just be sure they can answer some of these questions and offer all of these features. If not, it’s best to look elsewhere. You and they should be keeping abreast of all state and federal changes that concern paying your staff, as well as billing processes.
There’s simply no need to compensate your administrative staff to carry out redundant payroll tasks if they can be automated and performed with one simple click.
A generic finance software package may simply not meet all of the intricacies of services offered by a HHA such as staff travel expenditures, overtime, and 24-hour shifts. Nor will it keep up with changing regulations that spotlight the HHA industry. There are other federal regulations for which HHA software can be easily and affordably designed and implemented, specific to the healthcare industry.
Contact KanTime for further information on how to lessen payroll headaches and expenses, and how KanTime can incorporate pertinent features into new or existing payroll and billing systems for your home health agency.