Home Healthcare Software Ushers in New Future for Home Care
Home healthcare software meets a growing demand in the marketplace to manage patient care, staffing, and billing in a homecare agency. With over 12 million patients receiving 428 million visits per year at home, the home healthcare industry must have accurate software to record, monitor, plan, and account for patient care needs.
By 2019, the number of people over age 65 will outnumber those under age 5. This represents a significant milestone, for those little children grow into the caregivers of the future. There will be fewer people available to care for the elderly just when a considerable number of older adults require care.
Home healthcare software plays a vital role in the future of home care. With the right software, more can be done with fewer resources. Home healthcare agencies can better manage personnel, record keeping, and patient care plans. The resulting efficiencies may help offset some of the personnel shortage anticipated as the population of young people entering the home healthcare industry declines.
Three Significant Drivers of Change
Any predictions of home healthcare must take into account three significant drivers of change within the industry. All three derive from the “triple aims” of the Medicare program introduced in 2009:
- Improving patients’ experience of care, including quality and satisfaction
- Improving the overall health of the population
- Reducing the per capita cost of healthcare.
These aims eventually tied payments to goals in 2015:
- “To tie 30% of traditional (fee-for-service [FFS]) Medicare payments to quality and value through alternative payment models (APMs; including bundled payments or Accountable Care Organizations [ACOs]) by the end of 2016 and 50% by the end of 2018 and
- “To tie 85% of all traditional payments to quality or value by 2016 and 90% by 2018 through programs such as Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program (HVBP) and Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP).” The Future of Home Healthcare, Page 2
By tying payments in the fee for service model to quality and value, the government hoped to inspire home healthcare agencies to monitor their quality of care more stringently. Medicare continues to push toward the goal of reducing readmissions to hospitals and other facilities and enhancing the quality of healthcare for all receiving home health assistance.
Predictions for the Industry
Predictions can, and do, shift according to the information available. Given what we know to date of the home healthcare industry, here’s what we predict for the future:
- Consumer demand drives home healthcare: Both patients and their families prefer to care for loved ones in the home environment. With tales of nursing home abuse and hospital-based infections all too real, bringing nursing care to patients helps prevent the spread of infections, ensure that patients are in comfortable and familiar surroundings, and helps families feel confident in their loved one’s caregivers.
- Legislation is here to stay: Legislation guiding home healthcare tying payments to quality and outcomes isn’t going away. It may change and evolve, but the overall gist appears to be firmly rooted in both policy and practice.
- No single model for patient management: No single model emerges to manage post-acute care patients, patients with chronic illnesses, high risk, or patients with long-term care needs. This complicates Medicare payments and legislations. Governments like one law to cover everyone, but as home healthcare agencies know, each patient requires an individual care plan and a unique group of services. Industry leaders must remain vigilant to ensure that the government doesn’t regulate available care (by withholding or giving Medicare payments) according to arbitrary laws rather than physician recommendations.
- Adapt to Medicare Advantage: Home healthcare agencies must be able to contract with Medicare Advantage plans and providers that are willing to take on financial risk. Agencies will need to clearly articulate the value they bring so they can court new Medicare Advantage partners who will help bring them business.
- Develop new strategies for acute patients: The need is great, but resources are few for acute-care need patients to be cared for at home and in the community. Telemedicine offers the intriguing potential for acute care patients. Other technologies, including remote monitoring, automated blood glucose monitors, and medical devices that communicate with doctors’ offices and hospital software also offer new strategies to treat the acutely ill in a home environment. Home health agencies must be ready and willing to embrace these technologies.
- Measure, monitor, and report patient outcomes: By measuring and reporting patient outcomes, home healthcare agencies demonstrate their commitment to meeting Medicare mandates and stated goals. Quantifiable metrics are easier to track using home healthcare software. For example, wound healing, mobility improvements, breathing improvements, and other measurements can be taken and monitored to support the agency’s commitment to quality of care.
Challenges to the Current Model
Although it appears as though the current Medicare model is here to stay, the siloed way in which Medicare views payment and treatment may be a significant stumbling block in the future. Medicare requirements for home healthcare, such as the requirement to be homebound hinder the industry’s future and the quality of care for patients. Medicare tends to prioritize volume over value, which leads to fragmentation in coordinated care. Although industry experts are uncertain about changing these areas, the consensus is that they do need to change.
Using Software to Improve Your Agency
Home healthcare software can help your agency meet many of the challenges described in these predictions. The right home healthcare software offers a package for accounting, human resources, billing, and communications.
With the right home healthcare software, you can:
- Assess, measure, and monitor the quality of care, an essential aspect of the Medicare triple aims.
- Communicate with nurse practitioners and others in the care team to enhance the health and wellbeing of patients.
- Share data with other partners in the process, such as insurance partners.
- Monitor timesheets, work assignments, and other aspects of human resources and personnel management.
- Message patient families and provide updates about healthcare needs.
- Provide reports to government agencies and others to improve payment processing.
Cloud Systems Better for Home Healthcare Agencies
Home healthcare software can provide support for many functions. It’s especially helpful to add cloud-based home healthcare software to your agency. Cloud systems communicate through the internet, so you can potentially add permission-based access to items such as financial reports and other metrics to allow individual users to log in and view the information they may need to process invoices, for example.
Another benefit of cloud-based systems is that they can be accessed using any internet-enabled device and Wi-Fi system. As aides travel to and from appointments, they can record their visit information from their phones or tablets quickly and easily. This ensures that information is captured as close as possible to the time of visit so that nothing is omitted from care plans or reports.
The additional security found in cloud systems is also a huge plus for the home healthcare industry. With so many concerns about data breaches in the news and the potential for a huge problem if someone hacks into sensitive healthcare data, ensuring the safety and security of confidential patient information is vital. Cloud systems use several security methods to keep the information contained and prevent the average hacker from exploiting system vulnerability to steal data.
Additional Benefits of Home Healthcare Software
Another benefit of home healthcare software is the ability to manage personnel. Manual timesheets or timesheets tracked in Excel, take a long time to reconcile for payroll processing, and any time you touch a manual process, you open it up to errors. Using a computer system to log in hours, process payroll, and manage personnel schedules reduces errors and saves considerable time.
Other software packages may include processes to help you organize your daily tasks, automated messages, and reminders, and communicate with patients and their families. Each software offers unique features and benefits. But all will help you save time and improve efficiencies as you work towards building a better home healthcare business.
How Will You React to the Future of Home Healthcare?
There’s an old saying that the only constant in life is change. With the home healthcare industry, change is a given, especially since Medicare may be changed with each new major shift in political power in Washington D.C.
But one thing remains the same: the need for compassionate, skilled care for the homebound, the injured, the recovering, the ill, and the elderly. To enhance that quality of care, adding home healthcare software can be a big plus for your agency.
Mindover software provides consulting, implementation, and training to home healthcare agencies looking for the best software to enhance their businesses. We can help you find excellent home healthcare software and ease the transition to the new software through training, support, and implementation services. For more information, please contact Mindover Software today at 512-990-3994 to learn more.