Selecting the right home healthcare software will be critical for maintaining and growing your practice. It’s a big decision that can have positive – or negative – outcomes for you in the years ahead. As you move forward and begin to consider various options, we have some advice for you: Take your time. You won’t be able to make this decision overnight. Get your team involved, do some research and testing, really understand the pricing. All these things take time. So, grab a cup of coffee, settle in and consider these seven steps as you begin your journey towards buying and integrating your new software.

  1. Assess

Your first job is to assess. Pull together all the information you have about your existing software, hardware, and relationships with various vendors and cloud services. You’ll probably need to create a folder with an index to keep everything organized. You’ll need this information handy as you go through the research and sales process, so take time to collect and catalogue information about what you’ve got.

This is a good time to generate a list of questions to pose to key members of your organization and vendors. The list might include questions like:

  • How many people will use the new software?
  • How many members of your teams will need to access the software through tablets, smartphones, or remotely?
  • Exactly how big is your agency, and what plans are there for growth over the next 5 – 10 years?
  • When are peak use times for your agency?

 

  1. Bring in your team

Next, you need to realize two important things: You can’t do this alone, and you’ll need buy-in from all your teams, so host a launch meeting. Invite key managers from all relevant departments, including:

  • Your clinical team in the field
  • Office support staff including schedulers
  • Administrators
  • Accounting and billing
  • Marketing and analytics team
  • IT
  • Legal
  • Key partners and vendors who may be impacted by new software

Use this meeting to get the team excited about the idea of new home healthcare software, and to listen. Ask really good questions about the systems they use now, find out what they like about the systems and what bothers them the most. This meeting will be the basis for the next phase of the process.

  1. Research

From your team in the field, to the appointment setter in the office, and your accountants, give everyone a research task. Ask them to spend the next week looking at the systems they use currently and making notes on how the systems work and how their job could improve with an update. Ask them to network with friends in the industry to find out what kind of software they’re using, and at the end of the week, bring them back to share their lists and ideas with the rest of the team. The information your team gathers may give you some good ideas about home healthcare software systems that are out there, and you’ll now have a wish list from each team of the features they’d like to see in a new system, which might include:

  • The ability to run software on any device so it is easier to work in the field
  • Communication tools with doctors, pharmacies, and more
  • Apps that can access patient charts, medication tables, and other critical information
  • Ability for the software to integrate with various insurance plans as well as compliance with OASIS
  • Billing and financial features that help track billing and payments
  • Scheduling features
  • Reporting capabilities for all facets of the organization – from patient progress to billing status
  • Lots of up-to-date compliance features

 

  1. Get real

Now it’s time to start pulling ideas together and really look at software. Once you dig into the research your team has done, you’ll find some unifying ideas. Identify the key pain points your teams articulate about software, and make a working list of the features that each team is hoping for in a new program.  With their suggestions about software products they’ve heard about or had the chance to use, you can start looking at actual products.

  1. Envision your future

Now that you’re armed with information, you can shop. Some programs you look at will be out of reach for you for one reason or another – they don’t have a key feature that everyone in the office wants, or the price is astronomically high – so as you shop, you should be able to narrow the list down to a few products. Begin thinking of these products as reality as you envision how each will work in your environment. Think about how each product will work with your legacy systems, how the employees will embrace it, and what the product’s long-term implications are for you company.

  1. Test it

The fun part is testing the software. Some products allow you a free trial, others require a chat with a salesperson to get you set up on a test server. Find out how you and your team can test out the software. The team’s buy-in is really important, so develop a few steps for them that might include:

  • Setting up testing times team-by-team
  • Working with the software vendor to set up familiarization and training sessions so that you’re not just putting the teams in front of the software and saying “go”
  • Providing team members with a format of how to review the software and give their opinions so that you get consistent feedback from each team
  • Conducting a group session where all the teams can hear each other’s opinions

Your testing phase may be the most important phase of the buying process. With luck, the teams will reach consensus on one or two products, so now it’s just a matter of price.

  1. Price and purchase

When your team reaches consensus, there’s a few last questions to ask about pricing. Find out how pricing is structured. Will you have to pay per-person, or monthly? Can you get a short- or long-term contract? Work with your finance team and even your own salespeople to make sure you know the right questions to ask.

Additionally, make sure you have all the information you’ll need on implementation, from making sure that the software integrates with all of your current hardware and software needs, to being certain that the company will be there to support you through the launch of your new software, to training, and ongoing development.

There’s no doubt about it, picking software isn’t an easy process. But bringing in your teams will make all the difference – you’ll get feedback and help with research, and ultimately, being asked for an opinion and being heard will make your teams feel like they were part of the decision, so your transition will be much easier.

Home Health SoftwareThere's a lot facing the home health agency owner today. Regulations and compliances issues, staffing and managing costs are just some of the few issues that face agency owners and executives. For those operating in competitive home health care markets in large U.S. cities, the challenges can be even greater. Although the long term outlook for home health care is positive and the industry is poised for growth, the daily, short-term business issues facing a home health agency still exist.

As a home health agency owner, you want to be working with a software company that is growing with you.  Each agency has specific goals and needs. Is your agency software meeting them all?  Here’s a look at the latest areas software agencies are focusing on to help agencies succeed:

Regulation and Compliance.   A compliance issue can stop an agency in its tracks. An issue can mar an agency’s reputation and raise issues with CMS. There is already much government scrutiny over home health care providers and it’s growing. The right home health care software will be fully integrated and offer solutions that ensure real-time regulatory compliance; allows users to pass regulatory audits with ease; adopts best-practices; and grow your business worry-free. Built-in billing and financial reports will help providers track claims submitted for accuracy and ensure providers only bill for services provided. The reports ought to be customizable and the software should include automated reports to help grow your business; streamline operations; and ensure compliance.

 

Speed and Efficiency.  Agency owners are continuously challenged by providing excellence in care, yet operating quickly and efficiently.  Conversely, efficiency can help and agency’s bottom line, but not at the expense of patient care. For example, when agencies use a clinical scheduler, they are more likely to be in the top 25% in terms of quality as compared to agencies who use a non-clinical scheduler. [i]  This is likely why 36% of agencies have a clinical supervisor or schedulers do the scheduling, as opposed to 26% of schedulers who do their own scheduling.

Maintaining Quality Patient Care. Every agency owner knows patient care comes first. For most agencies in smaller communities, it’s a referral business. Keeping up with competitors by delivering quality care means running a tight ship is critical to staying competitive and growing. Is your agency using all available software and technology tools to keep current?  An important part of patient care is communication with a patient’s physicians and other care providers. Using software that can interact with multiple providers in different areas can mean the difference between having patient wait days for a diagnosis or prescription or just minutes.

Controlling Cost.  Minimizing costs and reducing overall spending is the goal of every agency. But how can it be done effectively without compromising a caregiver delivering the best patient care? Technology is the first step in managing best billing practices. When billers and coders are using up-to-date and comprehensive software, they are working faster. In addition, a software that is tracking mileage using accurate GPS is another way to be more accurate when it comes to reimbursements.

Embracing Technology.  Change in everything is inevitable. One of the biggest mistakes and agency can make is continuing to embrace old ways and not adapting to new systems and processes.  Formerly, the best way to document visits was obtaining a patient’s signature then scanning that paperwork and submitting it. Now a newer, less time consuming solution is here: Electronic Visit Verification (EVV). EVV means a caregiver can automatically check-in at the point of care, making the regulatory process even easier by using real-time check in with a patients signature on a Smartphone or tablet.

If your agency’s software system is addressing all these needs, you’re most likely working smarter and faster.  If you feel you need more, contact a home health agency software provider to find out how you can automate more aspects of your business to poise for even greater success.

 

[i] National State of the Industry Report for Home Health and Hospice 2013-2014, Fazzi Associates

Looking Back

In the past, patients had to visit health care facilities for medical care. The information received from the patients had to be manually processed, diagnosis would be based on unstructured information and tests would take days to process. With an aging population and an increase in acute and chronic illnesses, there was a grave need to make healthcare facilities more efficient and easily accessible, and to promote home healthcare.  

Technology today in Healthcare

Information technology, over the past decade, has become a powerful force that has led the drive to a shift in the economy, culture and the industries. Now, that same technology is being utilized to bring about a transformation in the healthcare industry. Major league players like IBM are now putting their heads together to build healthcare software and systems that will provide more accurate diagnosis, treat illnesses and provide easily available facilities. Patients and doctors are now the new “end users”.

According to the MoneyTree Report, the investment in health care technology tripled to a whopping $995 million in 2012, from $343 million three years ago. This statistic is based on the data from Thomson Reuters. With the increasing investments in this field, here is what health care technology has to offer:

1.     Software to Analyze Data

Complete information is imperative for an accurate diagnosis. Therefore, health care providers rely on getting vital information from patients for a better understanding of the medical condition. Most information they receive is unstructured: physicians’ notes, registration forms, reports, summaries. As a result, healthcare industries are drowning in information they find difficult to process.  

To resolve this problem, healthcare software, Electronic Health Records (EHRs) is looking to revolutionize data processing. It allows healthcare professionals to disseminate information, track data, identify patient logs and analyzes trends like never before. Furthermore, the EHR creates a database that makes information easily accessible, cross state, allowing patients’ information to move with them,

2.     Major investment from government

In order to see that it is fully implemented, the government has introduced policies that encourage healthcare facilities to incorporate technology into their operational systems. A budget has also been allocated; the federal government intends to offer to spend up to $29 billion in incentives for hospitals to digitalize their record keeping system.

3.     Technology that can be worn

Wearable technology has been providing doctors with the option to effectively monitor patients and at the same time provide doctors with real time access to electronic information.

This technology is not just for use of doctors. It has moved beyond the operating room. Now patients can also monitor their own health, sitting at home. OMsignal, a Montreal-based, Fitness and Health smart-wear company that creates biometric apparels that assists in measuring medical requirements like heart rate and calories burned to improve health. The clothing uses biosensors technology to track health data. Ultimately, this technology allows patients and doctors to stay connected and informed with accurate and easily tracked information.