Expanding Access to Quality Home Healthcare Through Mobile Innovation

By Jon Ford, vice president, Engineering, nVoq; a HIMSS Gold Corporate Member and National Health IT Week Partner

During National Health IT Week, champions from across the industry are uniting to share their voices on how health IT is catalyzing change in U.S. healthcare. The following post from a National Health IT Week Partner is one of the many perspectives of how information and technology is transforming health in America.

Jon Ford

More and more people living in contemporary urban settings receive home healthcare services every day. These care recipients are often physically or cognitively unable to travel, so the availability of a mobile healthcare workforce allows them to maintain some level of independence and, in many cases, live healthier and longer in the comfortable surroundings of their own homes.

However, the relative proximity of mobile caregivers for urban home-bound patients often masks the opportunity for true innovation. Too often, these services are delivered and documented in an inefficient way, impacting both the quality of patient care as well as reimbursement potential.

Overcoming Barriers to Adoption

While post-acute care settings are among the fastest growing segments of healthcare, the level of technology investment in these environments is still relatively immature compared to hospitals or even ambulatory clinics. Cost and connectivity considerations have historically been barriers to adoption given the unique requirements of the mobile caregiver workforce. But, with today’s ubiquity of mobile phones, Wi-Fi, and inexpensive tablet devices, home care organizations have never been better positioned to embrace and expand on technology-driven innovation that has benefited their counterparts in other sectors.

Adopting Mobile Technology

Adopting mobile electronic health records (EHRs) is a natural first step. Here, the simplicity and size of the mobile form factor provides great convenience, but clinical documentation also needs to be timely, consistent, accurate and complete. Adding speech recognition as a data intake modality to a mobile EHR can expedite data entry, ensure compliance, and accelerate time to reimbursement.

If the caregiver can see one or more additional patients as a result of more efficient workflow, the return on investment for these technologies is often quickly achieved, and more visits can be scheduled with the same resources. This is particularly impactful in high density urban settings where caregiver labor may be in short supply. Higher quality documentation in the system of record also enables the application of analytics tools to better manage needs of specific patient communities such as diabetics or those with congestive heart failure, where readmission is a particular concern. Mobile monitoring devices of all kinds can be utilized to assist in treating these chronic conditions and engaging both patients and their families in the caregiving cycle.

Improving Home Care From End to End

This is just the tip of the iceberg. What is being done to improve the efficiency of home healthcare planning, delivery, documentation, billing and auditing? Are home visits and treatments documented with the same level of detail and quality as those received in a hospital? Can billing be administered for home care with the same confidence as care received in the emergency room? Can an auditor review the records and easily validate the accuracy and quality of the care that was provided?

As an industry, we can take innovation one step further. We technology vendors serving the home care industry should work to build a set of integrated tools and services that facilitate home healthcare delivery from end to end. Let’s cover the map from initial scheduling to the final documentation audit, with the same privacy, security, and reliability our customers in other healthcare sectors have come to expect. Most all of us, if not already, are going to need some form of home care someday. With the help of mobile technology, we can make this rite of passage a much smoother one for all concerned.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.

National Health IT Week | October 8-12

Healthcare Transformation | Access to Care | Economic Opportunity | Healthy Communities

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