7 Apr 2022

Short distances and on-site decisions: professional caregivers are now also authorized to prescribe nursing aids for home care

The Health Care Expansion Act (Gesundheitsversorgungsweiterentwicklungsgesetz – GVWG) authorizes all nursing professionals with a qualification according to the Nursing Professions Act (Pflegeberufegesetz – PflBG) to make the relevant recommendations.

At the beginning of the year, a small sensation occurred almost inconspicuously in the German system of reimbursement for medical aids. Medical professionals had previously been the sole authorities for prescribing nursing aids, but now the decision about what kinds of aids are important and necessary for patients’ daily lives has been placed in the hands of caregivers who are personally well acquainted with the patients.

The new regulation in §40 of the Social Code XI actually only reflects the lived reality of the situation, in which professional caregivers often “request” physicians to prescribe the necessary nursing aids. Now this bureaucratic step can be skipped over and caregiving can be optimized. The changed rules make it easier for the affected individuals to get the nursing aids they need.

Sven Koppelwiser from the nursing bed manufacturer Burmeier and spokesman of the WG Aids at the industry association SPECTARIS, summarises: “Legislators want people in need of care to receive suitable nursing aids for home care more quickly than before. To accomplish this, the new legislation relies on the competence of trained professional caregivers. If a caregiver sees a need for a particular nursing aid during a home visit, the medical supply store can submit the caregiver’s concrete recommendation to the funding agency in lieu of a doctor’s prescription. This saves valuable time in providing the necessary aids, while simultaneously eliminating paperwork for general practitioners and reducing unnecessary contacts.

The Health Care Expansion Act (Gesundheitsversorgungsweiterentwicklungsgesetz – GVWG) authorizes all nursing professionals with a qualification according to the Nursing Professions Act (Pflegeberufegesetz – PflBG) to make the relevant recommendations. The GKV Spitzenverband offers a standard form for this purpose, but the recommendation can also be submitted to the funding agencies “simply in written form” like an ordinary prescription.

The new rule only affects nursing aids that are missing in a patient’s home; it does not apply to aids needed for inpatient care.
Source: medigroba

The new rule only affects nursing aids that are missing in a patient’s home; it does not apply to aids needed for inpatient care. Sven Kübler from the Competenz Netzwerk Außerklinische Intensivpflege CNI e.V. (Competence Network for Out-of-Home Intensive Care) views this change as a milestone in outpatient care for an increasingly older society: “The new guideline includes numerous product groups, but the legal focus is primarily on care at home because it mostly involves aids for the bathroom and toilet, mobility, care beds, transfers and consumables. This is good and right because caregivers are often the ones who can best assess the situation in the patient’s home and the need for nursing aids there.”

A big step towards reducing bureaucracy in the aid-provision process

Another aspect is likewise unprecedented: at last, legislators have granted comprehensive powers of assessment to trained nursing professionals. Normally, prescriptions for medical aids by panel doctors can be reviewed by the Medizinischer Dienst (Medical Service) at any time at the request of the funding agencies. According to the new guideline, the medical necessity is assumed to be given with the recommendation from the nursing specialist. The Medical Service’s decision is no longer interposed. This shortens the legally permitted “processing periods” to a maximum of three weeks, thus promoting speedy assistance in acute situations.

The necessary legal changes have already taken effect, so this streamlined system can be used immediately. The definition of the professional qualifications of caregivers played a major role in the legislators’ decision. But according to people familiar with the practical day-to-day situation, awareness of this new directive has not yet reached all caregivers on site: professional associations still need to spread the word about the changed legislation. Caregivers, on the other hand, need to be well informed about products, to filter new products on the market according to the needs of their patients, and thus to be able to ensure improved care.

Together with the publishing company hw-studio weber (including the trade journals not, beatmet leben and RehaTreff) and a number of specialized exhibitors in the field of care and homecare, the CNI network will present comprehensive concepts for participation-oriented out-of-hospital intensive care at the Forum in Hall 2 at REHAB. Interdisciplinary cooperation among many professions can even enable people who need extensive assistance (ALS patients, for example) to again participate independently in professional and social life. Forum contributions, expert discussions and practical reports will explore opportunities and options for affected individuals, their relatives and caregivers.