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

by Tim Rowan, Editor

More often than not, a large home care provider seeks out an equally large software vendor, knowing it takes a large, solid foundation to fully service a giant customer. Some may remember little CareKeeper trying to handle a rapidly expanding Maxim in the late 90's, or Home instead completely overwhelming Soneto a decade later. It turns out, though, that it can be done when properly managed, which of course means stepping up to offer excellent customer service. (Rarely does the CareKeeper/Maxim solution work out as well as it did for that pairing, with the customer's staff essentially completing design and coding work on their vendor's product. But that story is for another time.)

Ever since they ended the practice of building their own agency management systems with internal software designers and coders, VNS Health, the provider formerly known as The Visiting Nurse Service of New York, has swallowed up its share of smaller software companies trying to meet its needs. A billion-dollar-plus organization that provides home care, home health, and hospice services and operates five health plans under its umbrella, VNS Health is a challenging customer.


Exception to the Rule

We spoke recently with Jim Rolla, Senior VP of VNS Health, and Steve Vaccaro, President of HHAeXchange. We learned that, despite the obvious size difference between customer and vendor, this relationship is working. Rolla explained that his choice to switch his personal care services department to HHAeXchange was driven by a need to increase coordination with other departments. "Our other divisions had switched to HHAeXchange and were happy with it. Sharing data became an issue as long as we stayed with our previous provider," he told us.

Another advantage began to develop after the Personal Care unit distributed the HHAeXchange Clinical Information System to its staff. "They had been stuck around 20% to 25% adoption of the mobile tool they were using," said Vaccaro. "Once our Clinical Information System was fully deployed, caregivers liked it and more and more of them started using it on a daily basis. We are up to 80 percent so far."

Rolla beliefs the increase has to do with ease of use, ease of learning to use, and reliability. The new system includes HHAeXchange's popular EVV system, but also offers a clinical documentation tool that caregivers find easy to use. Instead of presenting a blank form for note taking, the system prompts the caregiver with patient-specific questions, simplifying the task of entering observations based upon the identified chronic condition of the patient. Entered data immediately transfers to the office side of the system, enabling quicker intervention when necessary. 

"By being able to spot early warning signs," Rolla continued, "we have been able to reduce ER visits and hospital readmissions." VNS Health has also noticed more efficient communications with other providers that need to coordinate with various VNS health plans. As one of the leading EVV and AMS providers in New York State, HHAeXchange has many customers in the VNSNY network. It also helps that HHAeXchange works with most of the MCOs in New York, Rolla added.

"With the challenges we all face retaining quality caregivers," Rolla concluded, "we must focus on worker satisfaction. When we give them tools that are difficult to use, we lose more of them. Our retention numbers have steadily improved since we deployed HHAeXchange."


©2023 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.