The roughly 75 million Americans who make up the baby boomer generation are shaking things up once again—this time in the health care arena. According to a Congressional Budget Office report, by 2050, one-fifth of the total U.S. population will be elderly (65 or older). That growth will bring a corresponding increase in the number of people with functional and cognitive limitations. According to data from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, the elderly nursing home population has declined over the past 10 years; more elderly people are living in residential care facilities or taking advantage of in-home health care services. The baby boomers are leading the charge to maintain freedom and independence as they age in place. That's why, in a recent National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) annual meeting, keynote speaker Sen. Harry Reid, D-NV, highlighted the importance of home health care. "...the home health care industry will become the de facto solution for many as our aging population requires more care," he said. NAHC President Val Kilimandaris agrees that home care and hospice are poised to play a key role in the years ahead. He has lobbied Congress for more funding for home- and community-based care agencies and providers so that they can invest in the technology that will increase patient quality of care. From a provider standpoint, technology is actually the software system that drives the business, commonly referred to as an electronic medical records (EMR) system or a home care software solution. These solutions allow home health care organizations to capitalize on growing demand, function more efficiently and better serve clients. But there are considerations when choosing the right platform. Providers must understand that their current system may need upgrades or modifications to function optimally, and they must be willing find the complete system that will work for them. To that end, providers must consider this technology an investment in the business and dedicate necessary time and resources to implementation, training and maintenance. This is an operational and procedural shift, and what is new will not function well within old processes. Selecting a system may seem daunting, but asking the following questions can help define the solution that is right for your business.
- How difficult is it for you to keep track of caregiver inservices and certifications?
- How long does it take you or your staff to reconcile the schedule each week?
- Are you finding inefficiencies in intake, billing and payroll systems?
- How easy does your current system make it for you to see caregiver arrival times or notify you if they were late for appointments?
- How does your current system help with HIPAA compliance initiatives?
- How easy is it for you to see changes in client status?
- How easy does your system make it to see if caregivers are completing activities of daily living (ADLs) on site?
- Can you easily export data out of your current system to inform business decisions (i.e., how many hours a week you are billing, how many caregivers with specific certifications are available within a given week, what referral sources are your most profitable)?
- Do you have the ability to mass text your caregivers from your current system?
- Are you able to restrict permissions and access within your current system?
Home health care organizations will see unprecedented growth in the next decade. Is your organization ready to take advantage of the growing demand for the services you provide? A robust EMR system or home care software solution can provide you with a competitive advantage—and help to strategically manage your growth. In fact, according to available data, in cases in which a current software system has been evaluated and business processes reviewed, implementation of a new system has increased operational efficiencies and productivity within 30-60 days. More efficient processes translate to increased capacity, profitability, and, more importantly, better overall client care.