Serving the home health, home care and hospice industry since 1999.

by Tim Rowan, Editor

Is the number of hospices increasing? Or are more hospices than usual switching EMR software vendors this year? Either way, something in the marketplace is keeping implementation and training crews at Netsmart busier than usual. We spoke with Hannah Patterson, Netsmart Vice President & General Manager of Post-Acute Operations, and Dawn Iddings, Netsmart Senior Vice President & General Manager, Post-Acute, to gain deeper perspective on a recent announcement about 16 new hospice and palliative care customers (see "Vendor Watch" 8/5/20). Apparently, the answer is "both."

"We are seeing some hospices migrate from competitors," Ms. Iddings told us, "but there is growth in the industry as well. We think what Netsmart has to offer is attracting some attention."

Readers will remember that Netsmart acquired the home health and hospice software products from Allscripts in 2016, then followed with a flurry of acquisitions that included HealthMEDX, Change Health (the former McKesson home care and hospice division), and DeVero. More recently, the Overland Park, Kansas company added McBee Consultants and QIRT.

Iddings explained that the EMR for home health and hospice that resulted from that pool of industry expertise, My Unity, draws on the best ideas in each product. Longtime users of Allscripts and McKesson software are not being pushed to My Unity, she said; all products will continue to be supported for the foreseeable future.

"McKesson had an excellent care planning system, so we incorporated that," Ms. Patterson said. "And we added iPad capability to the former Allscripts product. Nurses who do not like carrying laptop computers tell us they love that option. We encourage new customers to select My Unity, but we are making the legacy products better as well."

Ease vs. compliance

Speaking of ease of use and keeping clinicians happy with software, we asked Iddings and Patterson about the perennial fine line software vendors must walk between making clinical point-of-care software easy to use and enforcing rules that keep clinicians in sync with the rules. "What we have done is create an environment where the placement of that line can be determined by leadership within each of our customer agencies," Patterson offered. "During implementation, management makes business decisions about a wide range of settings we give them to customize the way the software works. They can tighten or loosen restrictions on what clinicians can and cannot do, depending on whether their primary concern is keeping them happy or keeping them compliant."

Iddings added that the nursing shortage and the resultant need to avoid turnover has an impact on that decision today. "That is why we give customers some flexibility," she said. "Some regions have more of a shortage, and therefore more of a concern about losing good people, than other regions."

The complete July 30 news release follows:

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Netsmart has announced successful partnerships with multiple hospice and palliative care organizations across the country. In the past several months, Netsmart has partnered with sixteen new hospice and palliative care organizations to implement an integrated electronic health record (EHR) platform designed to drive care coordination and clinician satisfaction.

As one of the largest technology service providers in the post-acute community, Netsmart partners with hospice organizations that vary in size and care service offerings. Netsmart hospice software promotes person-centered care to share and access information seamlessly throughout each care venue.

"The hospice industry has been looking for an enterprise computing platform that is both comprehensive and flexible to the unique needs of each hospice organization," said Netsmart CEO Mike Valentine. "Benefited by the guidance from the thought leaders of our current client base that represent some of the premier hospice organizations in the country, we have created a platform that will substantially move the meter for this part of healthcare. Our recent wins in the marketplace have also proven that organizations require more than an EHR to be successful. That is what is fueling our growth to become the market share leader."

More information about some of our new partners:

  • Hospice of Northwest Ohio serves more than 2,400 patients annually at home or in one of their two hospice centers in Perrysburg and Toledo, OH. Netsmart has provided electronic signing and double authentication verification which were must haves for a new EHR to meet regulations in the state of Ohio. Hospice of Northwest Ohio also purchased myHealthPointe™ integrated consumer portal, the full suite of OrderConnect™ for web-based electronic prescribing and medication management, CareConnect and KPI Dashboards. The Netsmart commitment to innovation was key for Hospice of Northwest Ohio’s goals of quality service and satisfaction.
  • Hospice of the West is the second largest community-based hospice and palliative care organization located in Maricopa County, Arizona. The organization has received Community Health Accreditation Program’s accreditation under the CHAP hospice standards of excellence. Hospice of the West utilizes Netsmart Mobile and has purchased more than 75 tablets for a mobile-friendly EHR to be used by clinicians. The implementation has helped Hospice of the West reduce admission documentation time by 50% and enables caregivers to spend more time delivering direct care to the patients they serve resulting in reduced admission visits by several hours.
  • Four Seasons, The Care You Trust was founded in 1979 and currently provides care to patients and families across 11 counties in western North Carolina. As Four Seasons has grown to serve more than 400 patients a day, they looked to Netsmart to provide hospice and palliative care technology and services in choosing their EHR partner. Four Seasons saw interoperability as a differentiator when deciding to partner with Netsmart and will also leverage the robust billing functionality and electronic signatures with RevConnect, KPI Dashboards, CareConnect, and CareConnect Inbox.
  • Haven Hospice partnered with Netsmart to move to a user-friendly cloud-based system that will be leveraged across all care centers of their 18-county service area in North Florida. Haven was recently voted the best hospice in Gainesville for the fourth year in a row by the readers of The Gainesville Sun. Through the partnership with Netsmart, Haven will also employ Referral Manager, CareConnect, full suite of OrderConnect, KPI Dashboards, Care POV Mobile Caregiver, revenue cycle management services and technology solutions to optimize better workflows.
  • Samaritan serves five southern counties in New Jersey. Samaritan Hospice was founded in 1980 by grassroots volunteers and is South Jersey’s first and largest organization. They are one of only seven New Jersey hospices to achieve the highest 4-star level of care in the national We Honor Veterans program committed to caring for veterans and their distinctive needs. Samaritan will advance their technology through CareConnect, CarePathways, KPI Dashboards, OrderConnect, and Referral Manager to deliver the needs of their hospice, palliative care and primary care services.

"When we were looking for a partner, Netsmart shared the same values to deliver excellent end of life care and support to those we serve at Hospice of the West," said Lisa Cheney, Director of Hospice Services. "Netsmart has been forward thinking with their technology since we first partnered. Our clinicians have had quicker and more accurate documentation while visiting with patients, which has been a game-changer for our staff."

Through these partnerships, Netsmart will collaborate with client organizations to continue to advance hospice EHR and palliative care EHR technology and services by creating solutions that are effective, efficient, interoperable and scalable to make a difference in the hospice community.

“We value each unique hospice partnership where we can work together to find the right solutions to reach operational goals and objectives, whether it’s time-saving, streamlining operations, improving outcomes or other goals,” said Netsmart CEO Mike Valentine. “We are grateful that hospice organizations are turning to Netsmart and are humbled by our role in empowering hospice caregivers to deliver the best care and providing patients and their loved ones the best experience during such a precious time of life.”

©2020 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Home Care Technology: The Rowan Report. One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only.