Published on: June 02, 2020
In a time of great uncertainty and worry, flexibility and organization are key to keeping your business running smoothly. However, that can be difficult right now in the home healthcare industry, when many patients may cancel appointments to reduce risk to themselves or their families.
The current health crisis has disrupted nearly every part of the industry: Vicki Hoak, executive director of the Home Care Association of America, said the coronavirus pandemic has “absolutely changed the face of home care” and “upended everything about our daily operations” (NBC).
Agencies who adopted cloud-based home healthcare scheduling software in 2019 were in a much better position to serve their patients when the pandemic arrived than those who hadn’t yet added home healthcare scheduling software to their technology suite.
Up to 43% of agencies with scheduling software still use spreadsheets to track their employees’ time. Many purchased scheduling software without considering the need for cloud systems. Cloud systems enable remote workers to log into the agency’s network from any location with internet access. The result is an efficient and better way to manage information and schedule appointments.
Home Healthcare Scheduling Apps
Home healthcare software helps agencies manage tasks such as accounting, billing, scheduling, medical records, clinical, and point-of-care needs. Home healthcare scheduling is usually a module or component of larger home healthcare packages agencies use to run and manage their operations.
Scheduling apps are part of the suite of home healthcare software. They focus on matching caregivers to patients and improving efficiency within an agency. The right scheduling systems can reduce downtime for employees by booking appointments using all the data available. If someone cancels an appointment, scheduling apps can redirect employees to the next appointment, saving time for the employees and costs for the agency.
Home Healthcare Scheduling: Benefits of Cloud Software During COVID-19
In the COVID-19 pandemic, the home healthcare industry is facing “the public health challenge of our lifetime,” said Dr. Steven Landers, president and CEO of the Visiting Nurse Association Health Group (NBC). The situation evolved rapidly, and many agencies were unprepared for such unprecedented change.
However, agencies who adopted home healthcare software, including scheduling apps, were well-positioned for the abrupt shift in service delivery when the various stay-at-home orders were issued.
As the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions were urged to stay at home and avoid unnecessary exposure to the novel coronavirus or COVID-19, many contacted their home healthcare agencies to cancel appointments. Some were able to depend on family members, now working from home, for their primary needs. Others, fearful their healthcare aids might transmit the virus and put them at risk, simply felt better without people coming and going from their homes.
Save Time and Money
For agencies without cloud software, the constant appointment changes made keeping track of employees and managing their time efficiently a nightmare. Agencies who used cloud scheduling systems were able to deploy personnel to new locations quickly, saving considerable time and money. The agency could assess how many people were needed to fill open appointments and adjust staffing accordingly.
Proactively Connect With Patients
Another benefit of scheduling software is it can proactively contact patients to see if they would like to move up their appointment time. One agency, for example, used Sage 300 with the CRM (customer relationship management) and a custom scheduling app by Mindover Software. Using the system, the agency reached out to patients waiting for appointments or next in line for appointments to fill spaces in the schedule due to cancellations. The result was more patients seen, a full schedule without wasted time or appointment blocks, and no lost revenues for the agency.
What to Look for in a Home Healthcare Scheduling System
As you assess home healthcare software, look for the following in a scheduling app:
- Complies with HIPAA.
- Commits to 100% security (frequent updates, etc.).
- Helps assign the right caregiver to the patient—considers caregiver skills, patient preferences, and needs.
- Based on the cloud—allows caregivers and employees to send and receive updates and connect with providers at a moment’s notice.
- Grants providers access to patient information, so they don’t have to go through the same health questions over and over again.
- Makes it easy to plan around time-sensitive visits and recurring visits.
- Syncs patient data automatically.
- Manages full, part-time, and temporary workers.
- Works even without an internet connection via an offline mode that enables data to be entered and synced later once an internet connection is restored.
Now is the time to add home healthcare scheduling software and an advanced cloud home healthcare agency management solution to your business.
Five Benefits of Home Healthcare Software – Especially Home Healthcare Scheduling
Cloud-based home healthcare software eliminates many time-consuming tasks, improves communication, and makes managing your agency easier. There are many benefits of using this software, but the following five are those that many agencies find help them the most.
- Removes paper-based documentation: Paper documents are the standard in many home healthcare agencies, but they are inefficient and insecure. Notes hastily scrawled onto forms must be transcribed into the system and then shared manually with doctors, other caregivers, and family members. When using a cloud-based system, however, notes can be accessed by others with login credentials in the system.
- Reduces payroll mistakes: Workers log directly into the system using the home healthcare scheduling app to record their hours. These hours can then feed into accounting, enhancing accuracy when running payroll, social security, and Medicare taxes.
- Flexible scheduling: Busy agencies find cloud software makes it easier to reroute and divert staff to their assignments as needed. If a patient cancels or if another patient needs urgent care, the agency can adjust the schedule online using the home healthcare software, and the employee receives a notification. There’s no need for multiple phone calls to track employees down, explain the change, and update the system when they return from their calls. It’s all done online.
- Prompt insurance billing: Because bills can be issued quickly, without waiting for staff to key visitation information in from their paper forms, you can put insurance claims in faster and receive payments more rapidly.
- Integrated systems: Home healthcare software integrates many typical business applications, such as accounting, finance, operations, scheduling, and communications. Instead of trying to juggle several systems at once, and then manually consolidating the information, a home healthcare software system lets you get the big picture view and handle the details. Integrating all systems means data from one area of the business can flow easily into another. Hours worked translates into payroll and accounting tasks. Patient-care notes can be shared quickly with doctors and family members. The accounting department can view insurance claims in process, paid in part, and paid in full. All these tasks can be accomplished within one system, accessed anywhere, anytime there is an internet connection, instead of opening and closing multiple applications.
The COVID-19 pandemic may last for a while. It’s time to make it easier for your agency to deal with all the changes the new situation has brought to the way people live and work, and that includes how patients view appointments. To learn more about Mindover Software’s custom home healthcare agency scheduling apps, contact us, or call 512-990-3994.