by Amy Shellhart, VP of Product Management, Change Healthcare
Landers et al. published an article in 2016 titled The future of home health care: A strategic framework for optimizing value. The authors performed a qualitative analysis and synthesized information about the future of home health care in the United States. They identified four key characteristics of the home health organization of the future: (1) patient and person centered; (2) seamlessly connected and coordinated; (3) high quality; and (4) technology enabled. In this two-part article, Amy Shellhart, VP of Product Management at Change Healthcare explores how technology companies are tackling the challenges of those four characteristics to ensure you are positioned to lead the home health care market today and in the future.
Patient and Person Centered
Patient and person centered refers to developing an intimate relationship regarding patient care (Landers et al., 2016). Patient-centrism is a key characteristic to providing high quality health care. However, home health care professionals struggle to define what patient-centric care means to their organizations and how to measure that care to improve value to patients and their families.
The industry of home health care is increasing because of an aging population. Landers et al. (2016) noted that the population of the United States is heavily slanted to older adults. The researchers pointed out that by the year 2019 there will be more Americans over 65 years of age than there will be Americans under the age of 5. This dramatic shift in the demographics of the country means that demand in home health care services will continue to increase. Home health care providers who can focus on creating value for patients and their families can differentiate their services and become leaders within the industry.
The demand to be person focused for home health care professionals is increasing beyond the assessment of Landers et al. (2016). The 2017 Home Health Conditions of Participation (HHCP) underscore patient rights. The HCCP called out provisions for written information regarding patient visit schedules, medication schedules, treatments, and other pertinent instructions. McKesson’s clinical solutions meet this patient-centered demand through the implementation of an updated plan-of-care document. This document ensures attending physicians remain informed of their patients’ care across the post-acute care continuum. By leveraging care planning solutions, providers can build an interdisciplinary patient-centered approach to focus on patient preferences, needs, and values. This approach increases patient involvement with home health care providers which can promote improved overall patient health.
Technology continues to drive patient-centric activities. Technology can provide clinicians with access to tools, built into their workflows, that allow for the printing or emailing of education materials to patients and their families. Not only can these types of platforms add value to patients, these platforms can streamline workflows and increase the efficiency of home health care providers.
Seamlessly Connected and Coordinated
To be seamlessly connected and coordinated refers to home health care providers being integrated with primary care facilities (Landers et al., 2016). As the barriers to the approval of home health services are torn down (i.e. homebound status), home health organizations of the future will find themselves more responsible for the coordination of care across providers and facilities. The patient’s home will be viewed as the central node as health care shifts from quantity of care to quality of care. A significant focus will be placed on the transition of the patient from institutional settings to the home. For home health organizations to successfully coordinate care and services across different providers, suppliers and services, they must be seamlessly connected and able to coordinate health care activities across the continuum of care.
Home health care of the future will use technology to connect to other providers. These platforms will be embedded along workflow paths to ensure health care is delivered efficiently as well as effectively. Home health care professionals will use tools to coordinate vital information in the care of patients. Electronic documents can be attached to the patient records making it easier for clinicians and staff to collaborate regarding complex referrals. These solutions will allow organizations to get a decision to the referral source quickly to ensure patients get the care they require in a timely manner. Technology can be used to ensure home health care organizations do not accept referrals that are costly to the bottom line because of location, type of care required, payer issues, or other factors. Embracing this type of technological approach not only benefits the patient, but helps foster goodwill with referral sources.
Home health care professionals will need to drive coordination between providers and facilities by embedding electronic documents into business processes. Technology can allow home health care providers to manage documents and acquire electronic signatures so health care providers can focus on providing quality of care rather than managing the tedious aspects of work. Technology platforms can track documents based on many different variables such as the number of days outstanding, admission/episode, insurance payer, and more. These solutions can give home health professionals the ability to prioritize outstanding documentation for follow-up based on items that are most important to your business.
Technology platforms can make it easier to coordinate across the health care continuum by building a singular source to view all aspects of a patient. Portable databases of information can carry vital clinical information such as medication, diagnosis, and allergies. These systems can also serve as a complete clinical summary of a patient. Capabilities such as secure direct messaging and membership in the CommonWell Health Alliance network enable seamless connectivity for the rapid exchange of health information.
Next week, in Part 2, Ms. Shellhart explores characteristics 3 and 4: High quality" and Technology Enabled."
©2017 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Tim Rowan's Home Care Technology Report. homecaretechreport.com One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only. firstname.lastname@example.org