Technology aids the home health sector
By Medline Newsroom Staff | March 14, 2023
More aging Americans are choosing to receive care in their home. At the same time, home health providers struggle to hire and retain staff. Fortunately, new and evolving products and technology are helping home health agencies to optimize clinical resources.
“Technology has jumped out as an incredible tool to aid home care providers,” said Bill Dombi, president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice. “I stress the word ‘tool’ because the technology itself does not provide the care. It has to work with the clinical talents of the staff.”
Dombi spoke during a recent panel discussion of industry experts, organized by Medline, to discuss future opportunities within the care sector and, specifically, how agencies can leverage technology to aid and support their staff.
Since the pandemic, there is greater appreciation for home health services and staff, and an increased realization that most patients want to be cared for at home. This includes an entire generation who are comfortable utilizing technology in their day-to-day life. As a result, agencies are finding new ways to leverage technological advances to drive clinical practice efficiencies and enhance the patient experience.
Elevating the nursing profession through technology
“For nurses delivering care at home, their image and respect really matter. We are seeing employers take a more committed approach to supporting all necessary action to improve workforce availability,” added Dombi.
“Technology and access to instant resources have helped give staff the confidence to go out into the world and elevate our approach to patient care.”
Senior Vice President, Compassus
Molly Haislip, senior vice president of Compassus, a home-based services provider that offers home health, infusion therapy, palliative and hospice care, said that nurses need a better work-life balance, but they also need to be able to provide high-quality care quickly. That is why the home-based health provider created a mobile app to help guide their caregivers through the individual patient’s care journey. It is proven particularly helpful if it is the first time meeting the patient. Compassus’ investment in technology has positively impacted recruiting and retention by helping build staff confidence, especially someone new to home health care.
“Technology and access to instant resources have helped give staff the confidence to go out into the world and elevate our approach to patient care,” said Haislip.
According to Monica Progar, assistant vice president of wound care excellence for Amedisys Home Health and Hospice, technology has helped empower caregivers to better understand and implement wound care guidelines. Understanding that their staff come to them with different levels of wound care experience — from ordering supplies to accessing, documenting and caring for a wound — the agency knew they needed a standardized, more readily available training process. Today, the agency is leveraging Medline’s Skin Health Digital Platform, a free application that provides easy access to clinical education, clinical resources and product selections that align with an agency’s formulary.
Industry experts at recent Medline-sponsored panel discussion on home health technology
“We continued to hear from our clinicians that the traditional ways of delivering wound education, whether it be live in person or virtually, self-studies, or computer-based trainings, just wasn’t meeting their needs on a daily basis. Clinicians wanted access to this information at their fingertips,” said Progar.
Wound care management will continue to be essential to the home health business. Effective management can help clinicians feeling empowered, and help with referrals and a healthier bottom line. Historically, the ability to leverage data to make informed decisions around wound care has not been common practice. As agencies think about investing in and optimizing technology, it will be important to have insight into the agency’s wound care population looks like, who their highest acuity patients are, what their visit frequency is, and what their visit utilization looks like.
New partnerships drive staff efficiency
As Medline continues to see growing customer interest in technology solutions, the company is expanding its relationships with third-party companies to help bring impactful technology programs to home health agencies. Medline’s newest partnership with CareXM is helping relieve the everyday challenges of patient triage to help reduce staff burnout. The clinician-built and supported technology connects patients and caregivers with clinicians the very first time by managing overflow calls. There are no long hold times and no waiting around for message delivery and callbacks.
“We need to consider the reputation and the social status of someone who is delivering care to our most frail elderly populations in a lot of cases, and how honorable that is as a profession so that people want to get into nursing,” said Ellen Kuebrich, CareXM’s chief growth officer. Kuebrich joined the panel to shine a light on how their technology is helping transform the triage function of home health care.
“We are fortunate for CareXM to be used in seven of the top ten home health and hospice agencies, enabling our customers to take on twice the census at half the cost,” said Kuebrich. “When we look at how we scale, how we take on the growing, future patient population, technology can help provide triage support, create efficiencies for the agencies, and provide peace of mind for staff.”
The panelists all agreed that the industry is paying more attention to staffing issues. The data demonstrates that home health care success depends on promptness—getting care started quickly once the referral takes place. The ability to react quickly will help prevent re-hospitalizations, ER visits and ultimately promote improved clinical outcomes.
“To be impactful, we have to do our part to continue to recruit, retain, and educate people and then provide the right care at the right time for each patient’s journey. I think it’s most important for us to understand what we need to do for the future of nursing,” said Haislip.
Learn more about how Medline is helping home health and hospice agencies do more with less.
Medline Newsroom Staff
Medline Newsroom Staff
Medline's newsroom staff researches and reports on the latest news and trends in healthcare.