Quick guide to field service management software
by Barrett Coakley
January 29, 2019

Given trends such as the increasing demand for home health care, shortages of talent to meet the increasing number of patients, and the need for greater economies of scale, home health care providers need to leverage new technologies to improve operations and meet demand.

One such technology is field service management (FSM) software that, when used to its full potential, can help improve both business and patient satisfaction. Here’s how:

1. Scheduling

Managing a team of home health aides (HHAs) is a complex undertaking. While there are dozens of areas that affect HHA quality of service, one of the most significant is scheduling. Optimized scheduling impacts patients, caregivers and scheduling coordinators and plays a major role in satisfaction for both the patient and provider.

Effectively planning for and scheduling caregivers involves competing priorities that must be managed. First, you must ensure that your HHAs are not only in the right place at the right time, but that they also have the proper qualifications to provide the treatment and care that each patient requires.

Further complicating the scheduling process is that, over time, each HHA develops a relationship with the patients and families they see regularly. There is a desire for both patient and caregiver to retain consistency with respect to the HHA visiting each patient.

This continuity of care increases the overall quality of care and patient and family satisfaction. Continuity of care allows an HHA to better monitor patient status without loss of information, enabling the HHA to detect problems or decline in status more quickly.

In the past, many health providers relied on developing schedules manually. But visiting several patients per day, driving from place to place, and navigating the routes to and from each location make care delivery and patient satisfaction increasingly difficult. In addition, poor planning can lead to increased costs and operational inefficiencies.

Efficient job scheduling is one of the most significant benefits of field service management software. FSM software helps with:

  • Proactive scheduling optimization. Optimize caregiver scheduling with real-time traffic updates, route optimization and instant reshuffling of a schedule to increase satisfaction for patients and employees.
  • Adaptive capacity forecasting. Use historical performance data to determine the expected workload by geography, time and work type to provide the clearest and most accurate picture of upcoming patient demands.
  • Right person, right skill. Ensure the HHA has the required skill set to perform care, and allows you to consistently match caregivers to patients to improve continuity of care.

By improving scheduling, you can take on more clients, protect margins and have better insights into your cost structure to enable you to more accurately bid on requests for proposals (RFPs.)

2. Mobile Workforce Management

Mobile workforce management tools are no longer a nice-to-have, but rather a competitive differentiator that every homecare provider should deploy.

Given that HHAs spend the majority of their time in the field caring for patients, it is important that you have the ability to communicate with them.

The mobile workforce management functionality of an FSM solution provides access to information anywhere and everywhere, which empowers caregivers in many ways.

It could be new information about a patient, a cancellation, mobile training or even a real-time traffic update to help the HHA arrive on time for an appointment.

An FSM solution can also help professionals in the field feel more connected to the organization, helping to increase employee satisfaction.

As a recruiting tool, FSM software helps to relieve the frustration of outdated or inefficient processes that get between your team and the work they truly care about doing.

Spending time on unnecessary paperwork or time on the road following poorly planned routes can lead to dissatisfaction on the job and has the potential to deter new hires from joining a firm in the first place. A survey of 1,000 millennials conducted by Microsoft showed that 93 percent cited modern and up-to-date technology as one of the most important aspects of a workplace.

3. Patient-Consumer Engagement

Delivering high-quality care is the most important role of your organization. Not only does this mean having highly trained aides to deliver care, but it also means delivering an exceptional patient experience Expectations of what constitutes an exceptional experience have undergone changes in recent years, and this has carried over into patient care as well.

In this on-demand economy where service is available at the push of a button, consumers now expect and demand a level of real-time communication and visibility. These new expectations have a name: “uberization” of service, after the ride-hailing company Uber. FSM software helps to deliver on these new expectations not only through mobile workforce management but also through real-time updates to patients, such as the location of the HHA and an estimated time of arrival on the appointment, to increase patient satisfaction.

Delivering a quality patient experience has become even more important with the move toward value-based reimbursements. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has itself introduced an array of value-based care models, such as the Medicare Shared Savings Program and the Pioneer Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Model. Private payers have also adopted similar models of accountable, value-based care.

Value-based reimbursements are calculated by using numerous measures of quality and determining the overall health of populations. Providers may have to track and report on hospital readmissions, adverse events, population health and even patient engagement. As a result, providers will need to focus on engaging patients, and part of that will be the ability to provide a better overall experience. FSM software can help in this endeavor. In fact, the research and advisory firm Gartner reports that 70 percent of organizations will cite customer satisfaction as a primary benefit of implementing field service management tools by 2020, up from approximately 50 percent today.

Conclusion

Home health care providers who want to be successful should invest in the technologies that can improve operations, engagement and efficiency. With FSM software, providers can improve in these areas while also delivering exceptional care that meets and exceeds expectations.