Online home care platform ClearCare announced Monday the launch of a new tool for helping home care agencies better handle client condition changes and track hospitalizations.
San Francisco-based ClearCare currently provides caregiver scheduling, billing and other software solutions to more than 4,000 home care agencies in total, including several of the industry’s largest. Its latest tool — dubbed the ClearCare Quality of Care module — is rolling out after several years of refinement as part of a joint study with Harvard Medical School and Omaha, Nebraska-based home care franchise giant Right at Home.
“This model is designed to keep personal care clients out of the hospital and out of the emergency room, “ ClearCare CEO Geoff Nudd told Home Health Care News. “It provides transparency into clients’ health by identifying changes in their condition and reporting these changes back to personal care agencies on a real-time basis.”
The new module’s change of condition feature works by having in-home caregivers report on their clients’ well-being following each visit. Broadly, those changes focus on eating, drinking, toileting, ambulation and mental acuity, according to Nudd.
Once a change is reported, ClearCare’s module immediately notifies home care agency partners and their care managers, who can then triage clients in a timely manner. In addition to notifying the agencies, the module creates tasks or to-do items in the ClearCare dashboard, helping to make sure any underlying issues that caused a change in condition are promptly addressed.
If home care agencies have relationships with hospitals or other health care providers throughout the continuum of care, those entities can be looped in on updates as well.
“This can support personal care agencies in their relationship with hospitals and rehab centers, primary care physicians and others throughout the health care continuum,” Nudd said. “As that change of condition information comes back from the field, a care manager can share that with others in a patient’s care team to ensure better quality of care.”
More effective transitions
ClearCare is unable to share full results of its joint study with Harvard Medical School and Right at Home, as work is still underway, according to Nudd.
But past findings from the ongoing study help show just how common condition changes truly are among home care clients.
Over the course of a six-month period from February 2015 to August 2015, 22 participating pilot agencies cared for 2,391 individuals across more than 273,278 caregiver shifts. During that time, caregivers reported 4,541 changes in condition, suggesting that caregivers report a change after 2% of all shifts.
Of those reported changes, about 40% were related to the care recipient seeming somehow different. Another 20% and 16% were tied to mobility and skin condition changes, respectively.
Overall, the change in condition feature has been deployed and tested across more than 150,000 patients in the last four years, according to ClearCare, which raised more than $75.6 million since launching.
Apart from the change in condition feature, ClearCare’s new tool — available for free to the company’s existing home care subscribers — also helps home care agencies track client hospitalizations.
“The hospitalization tracking is a formal mechanism to capture and record hospitalizations … [caregivers] are privy to when a patient goes to a hospital,” Nudd said. “By making sure to capture that information, making sure to create that centralized visibility with the care manager, that can facilitate more effective transitions back to the home and more seamless handoffs of data.”
During the same six-month period, the 22 pilot agencies reported 402 hospitalizations in total and 18 hospitalizations on average.
In general, ClearCare’s new tool fits into industry-wide efforts to better track and quantify functional limitations, recently shown to have a huge financial impact in terms of U.S. health care spending.
For example, Medicare beneficiaries with both multiple chronic conditions and functional impairments are twice as expensive to the Medicare program than individuals who have multiple chronic conditions alone, according to a 2018 data analysis by Anne Tumlinson Innovations.
“The patients our industry serves are among that top 5% of patients who drive 50% of health care costs in the United States, a number approaching $3 trillion,” Nudd said. “The thing that characterizes this population is they not only have multiple chronic conditions, but they have functional limitations. The health care system is really just waking up to the impact of functional limitations.”