Many home care providers are assessing their businesses for inefficiencies as the need for care increases among the aging demographic, and as the operations landscape becomes more competitive.
Enter: the rise of software solutions to assist providers in managing their workforces, keeping track of client information, and scheduling and executing appointments.
Home care providers are pressed to address many challenges particular to their business, many hinging on the client experience. A single missed appointment, for example, can lead to real consequences: clients missing medications or care needs; suffering the realization that they may no longer be able to care for themselves; or families having to adjust their own plans in order to address their feelings about not being able to provide the care that is needed.
James Delande is director of product marketing at ClickSoftware, a publicly-held company that offers a workforce management platform to home care providers, among other industries. James shared with HHCN some of the ways in which implementation of a scheduling solution like ClickSoftware can drive efficiencies and address field challenges such as communication, scheduling, response—and the unknown.
HHCN: How much time have home care clients saved by implementing frontier scheduling solutions?
James Delande: In general home care providers can realize a 30% gain in productivity based on time savings through: reduced schedule creation times; more visits per day per caregiver; decreased manual data entry (timesheets and client notes); efficient travel routing; ease of administration; reduction in wait times while in-day schedule changes are coordinated with the client via calls between the dispatcher/client/caregiver.
HHCN: What’s reasonable to expect in terms of time saving across small, standalone agencies, versus larger, multi-location providers?
JD: The results are virtually the same; since each location in a multi-location provider will receive the same benefits as a stand-alone agency. Obviously, the more options, the more the optimization, the more value it may bring. However, incremental value is significant through all departments; from patient intake, through regular recurring visits and emergency dispatching.
HHCN: What are some of the aspects of the way home health care operates that make tech implementation challenging?
JD: In most cases, home healthcare scheduling and forecasting are created and managed via manual, paper-based processes, or via limited technologies such as spreadsheets. Where technologies are employed, they tend to have been integrated in an ad-hoc manner, resulting in multiple systems and reporting tools that are not centralized and not available to all roles and disciplines.
Because of this, the change-management requirements across the organization can be substantial. Home health care providers need to think outside of their current constraints in order to gain the performance improvements and cost savings that they are seeking.
Effective planning, process mapping, reporting requirements and change management are the biggest challenges, but the ROI for those organizations that have implemented our solution (typically less than 18 months) makes overcoming these challenges cost-effective, and improves the performance of the solution upon initial deployment.
HHCN: What changes from the client standpoint when ClickSoftware is used?
JD: Because the schedule optimization takes the client’s preferences into consideration, the client can indicate which specific caregiver they prefer. This establishes a consistent relationship between the client and the caregiver that increases the client’s satisfaction with the healthcare provider. In addition, the accuracy of meeting appointment times eliminates the worry that their appointment will be missed.
Another point of improvement is a reduction in the administrative work of the caregiver, due to the automation of processes; allowing them to spend more time with the patient.
HHCN: Does the client still interact with a person on the phone?
JD: Yes, a client can interact with a person over the phone, but calls into the call center have been reduced by 40% because the client receives automatic confirmations of their appointment, and the overall appointment accuracy has increased significantly; giving the client greater confidence that their caregiver will arrive on time.
HHCN: What makes home care an industry that can benefit so greatly from a software solution like ClickSoftware?
JD: Home care is one of the most complicated of all home services because there are so many variables associated with the care of each individual client. Each client needs to be assigned a caregiver that has the skills to meet their specific challenges. For example, a diabetic client would need a caregiver knowledgeable in that type of care, a dialysis client with their care, and so on.
Other variables are based on the caregivers’ availability as they often work part-time, their geographical location, etc. The mathematical combination of these factors results in extremely high complexity.
Written by Elizabeth Ecker