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E-PLUS: Empowering Home Health Providers in Emergencies

E-PLUS: Empowering Home Health Providers in Emergencies

Medicare Medicaid Private Duty

Home health agencies and providers bear the responsibility of safeguarding patients' safety and well-being while ensuring uninterrupted care. However, in the face of disasters that disrupt regular infrastructure, health care providers may lack the necessary tools to deliver the same level of care as in typical circumstances. This predicament becomes even more critical when patients, especially elderly individuals, are compelled to evacuate. Often, home health providers remain unaware of their patients' whereabouts and whether they possess the required medical documents for appropriate care.

For home health providers, just like any other health care service organization, emergency preparedness constitutes a pivotal aspect of their operation to guarantee patient care and safety. Recognizing the indispensable role played by home health providers in disaster preparedness and response, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) incorporated 42 CFR § 484.102 (Emergency Preparedness) into the Conditions of Participation (CoPs) for home health agencies, establishing a foundational framework and guideline structure for emergency planning.

Introducing E-PLUS

To assist health care providers during emergencies, the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) advocates for the adoption of the Emergency Patient Look-Up System (E-PLUS). This system furnishes critical patient information when emergencies are declared, achieved through the following applications:

  • Patient Search: This application offers access to clinical and medication history by interfacing with national exchanges, including Surescripts.
  • Emergency Census: Designed to facilitate the management of Department of Health Special Needs Shelters (SpNS), it incorporates a check-in/check-out feature, harnessing shelter registration data to support the E-PLUS Missing Persons application.
  • Missing Persons: Leveraging Florida's Encounter Notification Service (ENS), this tool aids in provider and family reunification endeavors. ENS serves as a care coordination instrument, receiving data on admissions, discharges, or transfers (ADT) from over 750 facilities. SpNS data is utilized as a data source during emergency situations.

Access to E-PLUS is contingent on individuals' roles and responsibilities associated with these three applications. The utilization of E-PLUS during declared emergencies adheres to pertinent regulations and HIPAA allowances:

  • Missing Persons: Compliance with 45 CFR 164.510(b) and 45 CFR 164.512.
  • Patient Search: Conformance with 45 CFR §§ 164.502(a)(1)(ii), 164.506(c), and the definition of "treatment" at 164.501.

How E-PLUS Can Bolster Your Efforts

The E-PLUS Missing Persons application can be an invaluable asset for home health agencies, providing essential patient data, especially for those seeking care in connected health care facilities or sheltering in SpNS for which they have not yet provided information to the home health agency. It is important to note that E-PLUS is designed to complement, not replace, essential emergency preparedness functions. It aids patient care endeavors by offering critical location information and clinical records as required.

How to Establish a Connection

To explore how one or more of the E-PLUS applications can augment your emergency response efforts, please reach out to the program staff at

E-PLUS Resources

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