It doesn’t get nearly enough play just how unique are the needs and requirements of technology for Home Health providers. Whereas workstations and desktops are the norm in in-patient settings and clinics, Home Health services take place…well, everywhere else. When most health system EHRs don’t have any real practical need to be responsive and mobile-friendly, the healthcare communication tools for Home Health must be capable of functioning without reliable Wifi (much less hard wiring), via mobile devices, and simple enough to utilize while in a patient’s home or in-transit. (Eyes on the road, always.) But the mobility aspect is just one example of a need for different connectivity tools for the unique care setting of being not in a hospital or clinic. With billions of dollars in healthcare services shifting to the home over the next few years (ba-ba-ba-billions), this is not a fringe practitioner who can be retrofitted into ill-fitting solutions to effectively do their job.
Let’s explore a few more ways that these providers require distinctive communication tools to serve their Home Health patients.
Data That Hits Different for Home Health Services
Some folks may be surprised to learn that Home Health providers use EHRs. (Not always, but not never.) In fact, our recent partnership with Axxess opened the door for 9000 post-acute care organizations to enjoy the benefits of a secure healthcare communication network to exchange clinical data, available within their usual EHR workflow. So, while Home Health isn’t in the dark ages, the providers working with patients directly in their homes require different information to optimally do their jobs, which means different templates and data elements than your average acute-care provider. For example, it may be more important to have front-and-center information regarding the patient’s mental health and transportation barriers to ensure that imminent medical appointments are kept and that the care plan stays on track.
Home Health providers are also in a unique position to not only collaborate with healthcare providers across the care team, but to work closely with Caregivers. When healthcare transitions to the home, Caregivers become a critical member of the care team and cannot be ignored for their role and the opportunities for better outcomes when these folks are appropriately brought into the communication loop.
Coordinated Care Outside of The Hospital Is Not for The Faint of Heart
What is lost when a patient transitions care to the home is the constant, watchful eyes and monitoring that takes place during admissions. And while it’s not hard to imagine the quality of life benefits that come from being in one’s own home, the surge of an aging population and shifting market expectations means that we have to figure out to how meet the call (to deliver care in the home) without losing the coordinated care that happens when the care team is in the same facility on a regular basis.
Because coordinated care cannot rely solely on EHRs and health system infrastructure (great as they are), it’s vital to move the healthcare communication conversation toward democratic tools and simple solutions that are accessible (i.e. inexpensive and don’t require an IT department) to everyone. If Hospice providers can’t effectively exchange information with Pain Management providers, who can then ping Home Health providers to intervene and arrange assistance or DME as needed, then we simply cannot manage patients in the locale that is increasingly becoming the preference and, frankly, the only logical alternative for the shifting demographic of an older, sicker population.
Home-Based Care Is the Future
We don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to healthcare communication for Home Health providers, but we must consider where these healthcare professionals need different connectivity tools and solutions, and how to meet the operational needs that preclude clunky, costly software. Afterall, they are leading the path toward home-based medical services, so they are truly the cutting edge of where the industry is headed. We ought to pay attention!