4 Ways Digital and Mobile Technology Can Optimize Home Health
Home health agencies are an increasingly vital part of delivering high-quality healthcare to patients and our communities. But home healthcare...
4 Ways Digital and Mobile Technology
Can Optimize Home Health
Home Health Agencies Face
Home health agencies are an increasingly vital part of delivering high-quality healthcare to patients and our communities. But home healthcare providers face a number of difficult challenges in delivering timely, efficient and effective care.
Home health workers have a challenging job with a large number of patients to visit. They need to be clinically effective and help deliver positive outcomes for patients, but they have to do it efficiently, minimize risk and liability, and document all the work they do.
Home health agency leaders need to ensure that patient safety and best practices are never compromised, and they need to ensure patient and worker satisfaction. But they have to do it all while making sure the agency is financially cost-effective in a traditionally low-margin industry.
Ultimately, every agency must meet the needs and address the concerns of all of its stakeholders, including the patient, the home health worker, and executive leadership.
- Wants safe, high-quality care with positive outcomes
- Wants more time with care providers
- Wants health information to be readily available
- Wants a smooth and patient-friendly experience
The Home Health Worker
- Wants to deliver safe, high-quality care with positive outcomes
- Wants to spend more time with patients and less on documentation
- Needs real-time access to updated patient info and decision support
- Needs systems and tools to streamline, simplify, and de-stress their job
The Executive Leader
- Wants to deliver safe, high-quality care
- Wants to maximize revenue and contain costs
- Needs to minimize medical errors, liabilities and risks
- Needs to ensure patient and provider satisfaction
Balancing and delivering on all of these needs and concerns is no easy task. Many home health agencies are already overwhelmed with delivering patient care and day-to-day operations. But digital and mobile technologies offer some of the best ways to meet these needs and address the concerns of all stakeholders while optimizing all aspects of home healthcare delivery. And they can be deployed by working with a managed services provider who can help you transform your operations without taking on the burden yourself.
From the point of care and the patient experience to decision support, documentation, and the bottom line, a digital and mobile technology strategy helps home health agencies transform their operations for better speed, efficiency, accuracy and safety.
In this strategy brief, we’ll explore four major ways that the latest automated data capture, clinical mobility, and tracking technologies enable this. We’ll explore real-world examples from our work with Zebra, a global leader in healthcare data capture and mobile computing technologies, and we’ll show you how home health agencies are leveraging Zebra solutions to optimize their operations, retain employees, increase their daily census, and meet the needs of all their key stakeholders.
We’ll examine how you can dramatically improve patient outcomes and satisfaction and minimize costs, risks and liabilities while empowering your home health workers to deliver safer and more efficient care with less stress and fewer hassles.
Let’s jump in and take a look at how digitization and mobility make it all possible.
and Improving Patient Safety
with Data Capture
Home health patients want the best possible care and ample time with caregivers, and home health workers and agencies want to deliver on those needs while ensuring patient safety at every step. But manual processes, inefficiency, and a mountain of documentation and compliance requirements often get in the way.
Home health workers are constantly burdened with the need to document all the care they deliver, and often this means they have to spend extra time at the end of visits or at the end of the day, filling out paperwork and managing documentation. Frequently this also requires overtime hours, adding to the difficulty of their job and to costs for the agency.
When home health workers are overworked and burned out, it creates greater risk of a mistake or medical error, which could create serious harm for the patient and could be catastrophic for the agency in terms of liability. But burnout and overwork also lead to employee stress and frustration, which can cause them to leave their job in favor of another employer.
When paper-based and inefficient processes make it harder to track, verify and document the correct medications, treatment, specimen collection, blood management, and medical devices, it increases the risks of medical issues and departures.
This is why it’s so important for home health organizations to digitize and automate their documentation and patient safety procedures with data capture technologies.
By automating data capture to digitize, error-proof and streamline patient care and documentation, home health agencies can significantly improve efficiency and time spent with patients while minimizing errors and patient safety risks. Instead of manually identifying and tracking patients, specimens, medications, blood bags, or medical devices, an automated system with the right tools digitizes these processes for better efficiency, accuracy and safety.
You can also replace time-consuming and cumbersome paperwork with seamless digital workflows that allow home health workers to document care and ensure compliance on the spot, at the point of care, without spending endless extra hours or overtime on the task.
For example, many home health organizations are creating completely digital operations by integrating barcode labeling, scanners, mobile computing and tracking throughout their operations.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how a typical automated data capture system works:
• At the start of a home health visit, using healthcare-grade mobile computers or tablets, home health workers identify patients and match them with electronic medical records (EMR), care plans, medications, and more.
• Medications, specimens, blood samples, blood bags, medical devices, and other items related to the patient’s care are labeled and tracked using Zebra mobile or compact desktop printers, labels and supplies.
• Clinicians then use mobile computers or tablets to scan labels, identify items, and automatically match them to the right patient by transmitting collected data to their EMR or other systems.
• As care is delivered, the same automated data capture and transmission can document each step, validating correct care, medication administration, specimen collection, and other tasks. Home health workers use mobile devices to share data with an EMR or other system to automatically document and track everything they do for safety and compliance, and it all happens with paperless, digital accuracy and efficiency.
This fully digitized and automated approach replaces manual and paper-based processes that are slower, more cumbersome, and prone to error. In the end, it creates safer patient care and maximizes positive healthcare outcomes by enabling more accurate identification, matching, and tracking.
In turn, automated data capture reduces the risks and potential costs of medical errors, and it enables better compliance with fast and mobile documentation at the point of care. It also saves hours of documentation and paperwork, making home health workers’ jobs easier and allowing them to spend more time with patients and focus more on delivering high-quality care.
To implement an automated data capture solution for your business, it’s always a good idea to work with a managed services and mobility technology provider who is experienced in healthcare and can procure and configure the right solutions for your needs. The time, resources, and knowledge needed to implement a solution can be daunting for even the most experienced IT teams, so leaning on outside experts is a smart and strategic way to minimize the challenge and expedite a surgery center transformation.
Streamlining the Point of
Care with Clinical Mobility
One of the biggest risks and frustrations for home health workers and patients is when a caregiver doesn’t have the right clinical information and communication tools at their fingertips. It’s also a big concern for home health agency owners and clinical leaders who need to make sure workers are delivering the right care efficiently and minimizing patient safety risks and liabilities.
If home health workers have to carry paperwork or go back-and-forth to an office or desktop PC to access patient records, decision support, the latest imaging or lab results, or other critical information, it wastes time and creates delays and risks in care. Another common problem is inefficient or inaccurate scheduling and routing, with workers potentially being sent to the wrong location, or along a less efficient route, or having to wait 20 minutes because scheduling wasn’t coordinated properly and a patient isn’t available when they arrive.
Also, if workers can’t communicate in with managers and staff in real time, this further complicates things and creates more delays and obstacles in getting to the right locations at the right time and administering the right care.
Unfortunately, this is the reality that many home health workers and patients face every day. If systems and medical information aren’t properly mobilized, digitized and integrated, they can’t access and share update and accurate information in real time. That means home health workers are often operating in the dark, under adverse circumstances, and without proper decision support, so patients don’t get up-to-date care and are left at greater risk.
This creates a dangerous, disjointed and negative experience for patients, and it increases the risk of costly mistakes and medical errors that could be disastrous for patients and home health agencies.
Fortunately, you can dramatically increase cost-saving efficiency, minimize liabilities, and enhance patient safety by executing a clinical mobility strategy. Mobility puts real-time information at home health workers’ fingertips, giving them mobile and on-demand access to patient records, imaging, lab results, FDA device information, documentation, and more. It provides immediate access to all the software apps, systems and communication tools they need, so the entire point of care becomes vastly safer and more efficient.
By combining healthcare tablets with your EMR or other mobile apps, you can put the power, connectivity and information of a desktop PC in the hands of caregivers:
Mobile access to EMR, imaging, lab results, inventory, etc.
Push-to-talk (PTT) inside and outside the four walls
Voice calls with mobile access to your PBX
Secure text messaging
Mobile alarms and alerts
Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth and NFC connectivity
Octa-core processing for resource-intensive apps
Hi-res video streaming for better collaboration
4GB RAM and 32GB Flash memory
Built-in barcode scanning with 1D/2D data capture
Disinfectant-ready design for safe and easy cleaning
Tablets provide these capabilities in a larger, slate-style device, with more screen space to display patient records, medical data and images while delivering real-time access to information and communications.
However, no matter which device size or form factor you choose, you can combine mobile computing with mobile or desktop printing, labeling and scanning technologies to create a complete system for automating, digitizing, and streamlining the point of care. And you can integrate your mobile solutions with an EMR and even external, third-party systems with out-of-the-box interoperability to give home health workers access to the latest patient information and decision support.
In practical terms, it means home health workers can access things such as blood work results that were just processed 45 minutes ago, radiology and imaging results from a different clinical entity, or a primary care doctor’s notes from speaking to an oncologist. All of this information can be delivered to workers in real time to provide better decision support.
Additionally, with solutions such as Zebra’s WorkforceConnect, home health workers can use push-to-talk, make voice calls, or send secure texts from a mobile device to other team members and the right contacts related to each patient. This enables real-time communication for further information sharing and collaboration.
As home health workers are able to access information and communications in real time and work more efficiently, it not only improves healthcare outcomes but frees up more time to focus on patient interactions and visit more patients. It also makes home healthcare delivery a much easier and more enjoyable experience, which increases job satisfaction for home health workers and helps agencies with recruiting and retention.
For patients, they see that their care is accurate, well-informed, and well-coordinated, which boosts their confidence, comfort and satisfaction. For home health agency owners and leaders, clinical mobility helps reduce liability and risks, minimizing the chance that a lack of information, decision support, or other crucial details will create patient safety risks or legal liabilities.
Instead of struggling with informational blind spots or slow and disconnected systems, patients, workers and the agency can all benefit from a holistically mobile and digital system that unifies and streamlines the point of care. And with a managed healthcare mobile services and technology provider, you can achieve all of this without taking on the burden of deploying, maintaining and supporting your clinical mobility solutions. You can outsource the task to experts who deploy, manage and support all of your technologies and mobile integrations so you don’t have to.
Minimizing Costs and
Maximizing Growth with
Every home health agency faces a struggle to minimize costs in order to keep healthcare more affordable for patients and maintain a healthy bottom line for the organization. But it can be a difficult battle when care delivery, documentation and regulatory compliance are highly inefficient and still rely on manual and paper-based processes. Those same inefficient processes can also lead to medical errors that trigger expensive litigation and potentially catastrophic costs.
On top of this, every home health agency also wants to grow its business by delivering care to more patients. But high costs, low margins, and rampant inefficiency make it harder to visit more patients, hire more workers, and achieve that goal.
This is where technology-driven efficiency is a key strategy for slashing costs and capitalizing on growth opportunities. By leveraging technology to automate more home healthcare processes, reduce manual effort, and minimize liabilities, agencies can empower their workers to make more patient visits in less time, without compromising care quality, and they can maximize growth by being able to scale up their operations at much lower costs.
In fact, in a recent rollout of an EMR system with clinical mobility and automated data capture, one of our home health agency clients increased its annual financial margins from 2% to 19%. It was a transformative improvement that will now allow the agency to expand its operations, hire more workers, and invest in technologies and systems to help it build on this initial success.
It also helped address many issues with systems that weren’t digitized or properly connected. A lot of home health organizations are lean on resources and don’t have enough technology experts on staff to create more efficient, technology-driven workflows or connect systems that need to talk to each other.
But Zebra technologies and Stratix management will help you digitize, connect and integrate the systems and solutions you need to improve efficiency and reduce costs.
Zebra solutions integrate easily and seamlessly with leading EMRs, decision support tools, and other digital apps and resources that can help you optimize your operations. And our Stratix managed services team can recommend the right solutions as well as connect and integrate all the automated data capture, clinical mobility, and other tools you need to optimize your entire home healthcare business.
In the end, this allows home health agencies to turn technology into an immediately effective and winning strategy for boosting revenue, patient visits, and patient outcomes with a higher profit margin and better efficiency. It enables workers to get more done in less time, with less overtime and fewer hassles with documentation and administrative work. And it means better care quality and safety as well as better regulatory compliance with fewer mistakes and risks, which translates into less potential litigation and costs.
Improving Worker Satisfaction
and Retention with Digital
Convenience and Efficiency
Attracting and retaining workers is a major issue in many industries today, but it’s a particularly challenging task in home healthcare. Agency owners and clinical leaders need to ensure employee satisfaction and make sure jobs are attractive and worth keeping. But when prospective or current employees are confronted with outdated and inefficient processes, and home health agencies can’t give them the tools they need to simplify their job and improve the quality of their work, they will often look elsewhere.
In some cases, home health workers sign on as new employees but later jump at the first chance to go to a company that offers better technology and resources so there’s less need to work overtime, less stress, and they can enjoy meaningful work that allows them to spend more time with patients.
These are some of the key reasons why technology is not only a great strategy for improving home health agency performance but for attracting workers and improving employee satisfaction and retention.
In healthcare, there is an enormous amount of inefficient workflow, often with many unnecessary steps. But, in home healthcare, things can be even more inefficient, especially if workers are overly burdened with cumbersome documentation, have to go back to an office to print labels or documents, or they have to spend 15 minutes on their computer, searching in vain for clinical data and results.
When this keeps you on the job longer and requires excessive travel, overtime, and effort, it can become very personal in a hurry. It’s time that workers might not be able to spend with their families at home. And it’s time they can spend giving patients the care they need and deserve.
It can also become a major risk for home health agencies, since workers who are burned out, overworked and frustrated are more prone to make potentially costly and dangerous mistakes in managing or administering care.
However, by giving caregivers automated and digital tools to make their job and life easier, streamline their workflows, and help them get more done with less travel and overall effort, it’s a win for everyone involved. Patients can get the timely and effective care they need; workers tend to be far more satisfied with their jobs and less likely to leave; and agencies have a much easier time attracting new employees, retaining them, and minimizing the costs and liabilities of doing business.
There are many Zebra and Stratix solutions that can work together to enable digital convenience and efficiency, including:
App-driven GPS routing and scheduling to reduce travel time and inefficiency
Mobile printing to print labels and documents on the go and eliminate trips to the office
Touch mobile computing to simplify workflows and automate documentation
Automated data capture to reduce manual data entry and paperwork
Single sign-on to authenticate users and access multiple systems with one login
Voice-enabled smart badges for single-tap authentication and instant push-to-talk
These are just some of ways to make home healthcare easier, less stressful, and less time-consuming for workers. In turn, this allows workers to be at their best and makes them less prone to error or mistakes from burnout or overwork.
They’re also more likely to stay with their employer and less likely to jump to a competitor, and they’re more likely to refer other care providers to your business, which can attract and retain new employees more easily. And digitizing home healthcare also helps ensure that workers can deliver safe and ideal care while keeping labor costs and potential compliance and litigation risks at a minimum.
Each home health agency needs a unique solution and the right plan, support and services to get the most out of its technology investment and enable true organizational transformation. But when the right technology is applied and implemented with the consultation, services and expertise, it enables better patient safety, efficiency, and overall surgery center performance.
Through automation, digitization, and smart technology strategies, agencies of all sizes, from small local companies to major regional providers, can achieve remarkable gains in their ability to work efficiently, cost-effectively, and safely. It all starts with a few simple but dramatically impactful moves to automate data capture, enable seamless clinical mobility as well as better inventory management, and create digitized and superior patient experiences.
With end-to-end management of Zebra mobile home health solutions from Stratix, your employees will thank you and their productivity will increase, along with your bottom line. Watch how Stratix and Zebra work together to power today's home health agencies.
Wherever your organization is in its mobile-first journey, you don't have to go it alone. Stratix has led from the front on mobility for nearly four decades. We can help you design and deliver end-to-end mobile technology solutions that make your organization's mobility convenient, easy, and cost-effective. We execute deployments at scale and with precision, so they work in the hands of your end users out-of-the-box. Once devices are in service, we provide ongoing world-class managed services and visibility tools that ensure nonstop mobility throughout their lifecycle. For additional information, visit www.stratixcorp.com
Zebra (NASDAQ: ZBRA) empowers the front line in retail/ecommerce, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, healthcare, public sector and other industries to achieve a performance edge. With more than 10,000 partners across 100 countries, we deliver industry-tailored, end-to-end solutions to enable every asset and worker to be visible, connected and fully optimized. Our market-leading solutions elevate the shopping experience, track and manage inventory as well as improve supply chain efficiency and patient care. In 2020, Zebra made Forbes Global 2000 list for the second consecutive year and was listed among Fast Company’s Best Companies for Innovators. For more information, visit www.zebra.com