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A Chance to Talk About Living: How a NY Times Bestseller Is Changing the End-of-Life Conversation

By Danielle Pierotti, RN, PhD, CENP
Vice President, Quality and Performance Improvement
At the closing general session of the 34th VNAA Annual Meeting, Dr. Lucy Kalanithi read from When Breath Becomes Air, a book written by her late husband, Dr. Paul Kalanithi, chronicling his end-of-life journey. Seeing and hearing the voice of the man through his wife was a singular experience to connect art with life. 
The book has been featured on the New York Times bestseller list for 12 weeks—an impressive accomplishment for any book. Voices large and small, from bookstores to talk radio to academics, are all struck by the raw, unflinching bravery Dr. Kalanithi used to describe his experience of having, managing and ultimately dying from cancer.

What's in A Star Rating?

Co-authored by the Alliance and Visiting Nurse Associations of America

Over the past few months, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) introduction of patient experience survey star ratings to Home Health Compare, as a way to better understand the overall patient experience with care provided through Medicare-certified home health agencies, has gained a lot of media attention.

While the jury is still out on the star ratings as a whole, home health agencies recognize that both quality of care and patient experience are critical. Agencies are learning from the issuance of the star ratings and are committed to improving their performance on both quality of care and patient experience.

Has Your Hospice Registered for the User IDs Required to Submit HIS Data?

In order to submit the Hospice Item Set (HIS) admission records and HIS discharge records, hospice providers must register for a CMSNet User ID and a QIES User ID. The CMSNet User ID and the QIES User ID are essential for the successful submission of HIS data beginning July 1, 2014.

Registration for Hospice User IDs Now Available

Medicare-certified hospices will be required to complete and submit a Hospice Item Set (HIS) Admission record and a Hospice Item Set (HIS) Discharge record for each patient admission on or after July 1, 2014. The completed HIS records are submitted to the Quality Improvement and Evaluation System (QIES) Assessment Submission and Processing (ASAP) system. Hospice providers required to submit the HIS records must register for two separate user IDs – a CMSNet User ID and a QIES User ID. The online registration applications for the CMSNet User ID and the QIES User ID are now available.

Unique Webinar on Learning the Art of Empathic Conversations in Hospice and Palliative Care

Patient and caregiver engagement is critical to successful and meaningful conversations with patients at the end of life. Clinicians are frequently challenged to establish a trusting and therapeutic relationship quickly to assist in decision-making with patients and caregivers. Join the VNAA in this important webinar as Bonnie Morgan discusses the communication techniques and skills needed necessary for the Artful Conversation at the End of Life.

HART User Tool Training Modules Available

The Hospice Abstraction Reporting Tool,  or HART, is a free JAVA-based application provided by CMS and made available for Hospice providers for the entry and validation of HIS Records prior to submission to the QIES ASAP system.

Recorded Hospice Item Set (HIS) Technical Training Modules Now Available

Hospice Item Set (HIS) technical training will be available beginning the week of May 5, 2014 on the QIES Technical Support Office website at This training is for Medicare-certified hospices required to submit Hospice Item Set (HIS) records for the Hospice Quality Reporting Program.

VNAA Releases Case Study Compendium: Innovative Models for the Evolving Home Health and Hospice Industry

As VNAA's Director of Education, I have the pleasure of working and collaborating with truly remarkable and innovative members on a daily basis through interest group calls, education programs and the Annual Meeting. One characteristic of the VNAA membership that constantly amazes me is the culture of openness and sharing among the member community. Whether it is on an all member interest group call, an in-person meeting or just via phone or email, our members share successes, failures, thoughts and concerns to help others learn and engage in new and creative actions.