One of the nation’s largest home care franchise companies is investing heavily in its technology capabilities to keep up with a health care landscape that’s shifting toward value-based care—and to ensure private duty is engrained as a valued partner in the continuum of care.
Denver-based Homewatch CareGivers International, a non-medical in-home care services provider with more than 200 franchise locations in six countries, has begun rolling out its new and proprietary technology, HomeTools, to better track patients and mitigate some of their biggest risks of winding up in a higher acuity setting.
Homewatch CareGivers pays special attention to several of the social aspects of wellbeing at home, including addressing feelings of loneliness, helplessness and isolation among seniors, as many of these emotional health factors can have a significant impact on physical health as well, Julie Smith, president and COO of Homewatch CareGivers, told Home Health Care News.
“We have always had a differentiated approach to care that is person-centric,” Smith said.
Homewatch has also set itself apart by investing in proprietary software that collects more data on clients, including reporting on activities of daily living (ADLs) that graph the progress or regress of patients. Homewatch CareGivers can relay the information, which is tacked onto the company’s EMR system, to patients, families and other providers, with the aim of improving client outcomes.
Smith sees the software investment as an important step for the private duty care company to become immersed as a key part of an emerging value-based care health system.
Part of the challenge for private duty companies is proving their value as a preferred partner with other health care providers.
“When you start working in the continuum of care, the bean counters want you to prove [your value],” she said. “That’s why home care companies get stuck in pilots. [That’s why] we’re boosting our data technology with a proprietary system.”
Having more data and capabilities will likely show, demonstrably, how non-medical services can improve patient wellbeing, Smith said .
Specifically, the technology is able to track fall risks and measure activities of daily living.
“We’re stitching ourselves into the continuum of care,” Smith said. “Instead of talking about outcomes, we’re going to be able to demonstrate how mom has done with falls since being in our care, not just to the family but to providers, who are the referral sources to us.”
While the technology focuses on several aspects of care, such as mitigating and tracking fall risks, it doesn’t have predictive analytical capabilities.
“We’re not there yet,” Jennifer Ramona, director of business development at Homewatch CareGivers, said when presenting the technology rollout at the Post Acute Link Care Continuum Conference in Chicago in early June.
Beyond having implications for patients, the new technology is also a differentiator for Homewatch CareGivers when it comes to recruiting and retaining staff, according to Smith.
The technology supports caregivers by enabling them to effectively keep track of their patients, Smith implied.
“[S]he who owns the caregiver owns the sector,” Smith said of the tight caregiver market. “When you give caregivers the tools to do the job better, to demonstrate the impact on clients, you’ve got a strong proposition for caregivers.”
With the new technology rolling out over the coming weeks to its staff, Homewatch CareGivers is anticipating the rest of the health care industry will catch on that home care is a valuable partner in patient outcomes.
“We’re that piece, that missing link of who is making sure mom can ambulate and make sure she doesn’t fall and end up in the hospital,” Smith said. “We’re the vital piece.”
Written by Amy Baxter