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As the U.S. population of Baby Boomers continues to age, the demand for home health services continues to grow in response. Statista estimated that the 2020 U.S. home care services revenue was around $97 billion, with approximately 1.4 million persons employed in-home healthcare services in 2019 – a sizable increase from under 1 million just 10 years earlier.
While the #1 priority of home healthcare providers is patient care, the rising number of patients, caregivers, and service providers is complicating an already demanding host of issues, tasks, and requirements that can impact the quality of care. Inefficient processes eat up a caregiver’s time, and less time spent on delivering care means delays and longer wait times for home healthcare patients. These inefficiencies alone can damage the reputation and revenue of a health care provider, and that’s before factoring in mistakes, waste, and fraud.
Pain Points of Home Health Engagement
Outdated technology, older software, and lack of data continue to be issues for the entire healthcare industry – but home health care has its own unique set of challenges.
- Difficulty in Scheduling: The need for caregivers to travel poses a unique challenge to home healthcare, making it more difficult to schedule follow-ups and checkups in coordination with unexpected calls, caregiver shortages, or spikes in demand.
- Lack of Self-service: Without a convenient way of requesting appointments or checking the status of billing or insurance claims, patients need to call in, resulting in frustratingly long wait times and overtaxed coordinators and customer service personnel.
- Excessive Travel Time and Routing: Even if scheduling is efficient, there’s always complications with travel, ranging from wrong turns and slow routes to unexpected traffic and bad weather conditions.
- Inefficient Equipment Resourcing: Every patient has different needs, and different procedures or check-ups requires specific equipment. Not having the right equipment ready for an appointment can result in further delays.
- Manual Methods of Recording and Reporting: Using pen and paper to record information takes extra time, can result in errors or mistakes, and is open to possible false reporting and incidents of fraud.
- Lack of Communication: Just as patients can lack convenient means of requesting services, they may be left in the dark when it comes to waiting for updates on results of a checkup or the status of a test as they wait for mail or a direct call.
- Frustration and Burnout: The cumulative result of these inefficiencies is stress and frustration for everyone. Patients are upset, coordinators are under added pressure, and caregivers suffer the brunt of it, which can lead to burnout and a higher turnover rate.
To address these problems, advances in digital technology and new home health software can allow providers to better serve patients at home by automating certain manual tasks, providing greater access to information, and more consistent (and secure) follow-ups for caregiving.
Here’s how home health software maximizes point of care delivery to improve home health engagement and the patient experience – benefitting providers, caregivers, and patients alike.
How a Home Health Software Platform Works
As a platform, home health software connects the patient, the caregiver or health practitioner, and the provider through mobile devices, the internet, and cloud services. Here’s how one appointment would happen when coordinated by a home health software solution.
- The patient uses the application to self-select appointment times.
- The appropriate health practitioner is notified through a mobile device.
- The patient gets notified that the practitioner is on the way and can see where they are on a map.
- The practitioner arrives to deliver service and can check for patient status updates and notes.
- When finished the practitioner updates patient records and personal status through the mobile device and receives directions to the next appointment.
This process helps to make home health visits more efficient – which means more convenient scheduling, shorter travel times, and less busywork – all of which translates into more time spent on caregiving and improved patient engagement. As a whole, here’s how home health software can greatly benefit providers, caregivers, and patients.
Benefits for Service Providers
Service providers want to provide optimized service to their patients, both for their patients’ wellbeing and to maintain their bottom line. When integrated into existing operations, home health software can provide:
- A more comprehensive view of a patient’s care and access to the most updated information on their treatment.
- An easily viewed interaction timeline of a patient’s personal information, including important updates and recent communications.
- Filters and automated forms to improve accuracy, ensure compliance with regulations, and reduce redundancies. This streamlined workflow reduces the risk of errors on documentation, allowing for faster reports that are simple to run.
- Faster processing of claims which, in coordination with a more detailed analysis of overall financial performance, can provide a better understanding of incoming revenue.
- Automated billing options to help navigate the complications of dealing with Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, and third-party payers.
- A more secure communication and information entry for patient information to ensure the company stays HIPAA compliant.
- The verification of visits, a more accurate capture of patient signatures, and documentation of caregiver follow-ups, all of which help to eliminate potential fraud or abuse.
As a result of implementing a home health field service platform, service providers are able to operate more efficiently and reduce overhead costs – both of which help to generate more revenue.
Benefits of Healthcare Practitioners and Caregivers
Home healthcare platforms also provide benefits for practitioners working in the field. When integrated into a caregiver’s routine, the right home health solution will:
- Make schedules easier to manage and track, keeping things simplified for the caregiver. In turn, this ensures that patient needs are met and fewer people are overlooked.
- Present everything in a user-friendly design allowing for quicker and easier access to information and the entering of data without sorting through papers or forms.
- Make documentation easier and quicker, which allows for more time to focus on the patient and less time completing paperwork.
- Provide embedded knowledge that will keep caregivers informed through FAQs, step-by-step processes, and guides.
- Offer informed analysis that will drive caregivers towards more intuitive assessments, allowing them to better prioritize and escalate tasks to drive good clinical decisions.
- Allow instant access to needed information through mobile devices, ensuring that caregivers don’t miss out on the latest updates and notifications on everything from patient care to travel conditions.
- Improve communication through chat programs for direct and group conversations with other caregivers, resulting in better collaboration, making it easier to receive help or assistance from peers, and allowing them to feel heard.
More than just streamlining tasks and increasing efficiency, home health platforms help drive patient care towards a best practices approach which allows for a greater focus on the actual delivery of care.
Benefits for Patients
The ultimate goal of this platform is to facilitate patient care, and so the most important benefits of all involve improving the patient journey. When utilized, home health software platforms can provide:
- More efficient scheduling of caregivers where and when they’re needed the most – which means less waiting for patients.
- Instant information updates, easy review of materials and the ability to request appointments through patient portals.
- Real time updates on caregiver status to provide more information to patients about the estimated time of arrival of their care.
- Greater consistency of care through a better scheduling management to ensure that preferred caregivers are given priority.
- Easier means of providing information through automated forms and processes, minimizing the need to write or use pen and paper.
Improved engagement from caregivers and efficiency of service from providers can leave patients better able to manage their care, more informed about their care, and overall, more satisfied with their care.
How Cloud Solutions Help Deliver Home Care
Building on the benefits provided by healthcare platforms, a cloud-enabled solution offers even more powerful features and personalized services. When powered by a cloud service such as Microsoft Azure, home health software provides a host of powerful benefits:
- Seamless connections between your home care agency software and third-party applications offered by healthcare providers, doctors, hospitals, insurance providers and government agencies.
- The collection and storage of data that allow for insights into means of providing higher quality care by examining patient factors like hospitalization risk, care setting suitability, and health trends.
- Powerful data analytics allow for better prediction of which care providers will be best suited towards serving the needs of different patients.
- A predictive understanding of which time – whether year, month, or day – will be busiest and which practitioners will be in highest demand, allowing for more efficient scheduling ahead of time.
- Better communication between therapists, office staff, and HCPs through shared information on patient status and schedules, giving team members the ability to work on and share client information anywhere, at any time.
- Real-time updates keep the software up to date and secure against vulnerabilities and security issues.
- Scalable technology supports the future growth of your organization by adding more patients, more caregivers, and more data, all without taking on an added tech debt.
Why Hitachi Solutions
Managing field service can be complex and difficult, especially when relying upon a combination of legacy technology and manual operations. That’s why you want an experienced partner that has successfully helped companies modernize field operations and by leveraging the power of the cloud.
At Hitachi Solutions, our expertise with the D365 platform means we can provide customizable development that perfectly fits your needs.
Our team can work with yours to provide features like self-service portals for patients, software systems that allow for dynamic scheduling and greater visibility, and cloud-based services that easily integrate to mobile devices.
Our expertise is why we were named the 2021 Dynamics 365 Field Service Partner of the Year. Experience it for yourself through our Home Health Workshop, a value-based directional roadmap designed to start the implementation of a modernized home health experience for caregivers, patients, and providers.
Interested in learning more? Contact us to take the first step toward increased savings and improved patient engagement.
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