On Sunday, March 22, when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York Department of Health announced that in-home caregivers had to be screened for COVID-19 before entering a client’s home, Stacy Marzik of Alliance Homecare immediately wondered how the company would screen its more than 300 caregivers.
Marzik is operations manager at New York City-based Alliance, which is at ground zero of the nation’s COVID-19 epidemic. As soon as Cuomo’s news broke, Marzik emailed Alliance’s technology partner AlayaCare to see if the cloud-based home-based care technology company could somehow help with this massive screening task.
“Don’t you worry about it,” AlayaCare’s Solutions Engineering team wrote back. “We have this in progress.”
By Thursday, AlayaCare brought Marzik and Alliance through a training webinar on a new feature of its mobile platform: a COVID-19 “screener,” or questionnaire, that empowers caregivers to ask a series of questions and get a strong sense of whether they have the coronavirus.
Alliance shared with AlayaCare the screening specifications required by the state, and within 24 hours, the company had a customized solution for screening caregivers in New York.
“Caregivers were incredibly receptive to it,” Marzik says. “It’s been implemented now for four full days, and it definitely eases my anxiety about keeping both our clients and our caregivers safe.”
The questionnaire screener is one of two new innovations AlayaCare has launched in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis to help home care agencies protect their clients, their caregivers and themselves. The other, a video conferencing tool, will be available April 6.
“Care providers were increasingly incorporating virtual tools into their service offering and now, with heightened pressure on the health care system, we’re seeing the need for and adaptation of smart technology tools accelerating,” AlayaCare CEO Adrian Schauer says. “The addition of the screening application is helping care providers evaluate risk and early identification and response intervention has the potential to reduce the spread of infection.”
How the AlayaCare COVID-19 screener protects home care workers
For AlayaCare software customers, the new screener is available for free, and integrated on both mobile and desktop platforms they are already using. It features a self-guided questionnaire similar to what government officials are recommending for identifying COVID-19 symptoms. If a risk is assessed, an alert with the results is transmitted in real time back to the agency.
Key to its value is its customization for users, who can enter the specific mandates of their relevant jurisdiction. The New York Department of Health, for instance, mandates certain steps for home health agencies, hospice providers and non-medical home care providers, including:
— Self-screening upon arriving at work
— Self-monitor for fever by taking one’s temperature twice per shift
— Remaining alert for respiratory symptoms
Users such as Marzik and Alliance Healthcare enter their jurisdiction’s specifications into the AlayaCare screener platform to create a tool specific to their needs. The screener works through the mobile app, which caregivers are already using to clock in and out of their shift, Marzik says. When they reach a client’s house and open the app to log on, the screener automatically appears as a step prior to logging on.
And then, once they screen themselves, they do another on the client to alert the home care agency about any change in status of the client’s health.
AlayaCare’s new video conferencing background
Adding to its suite of COVID-19 protective services, AlayaCare is preparing to roll out a new video conferencing feature April 6, which lets care professionals perform home visits virtually via webcam. This feature will be embedded into AlayaCare software, which is now available to AlayaCare customers for a free trial period.
The other major benefit to the feature is that there is no additional hardware required — such as an iPad or other tablet — and no subscription fee.
“Because AlayaCare was able to implement (these solutions) so quickly, and everything is so flexible, when things are changing hour by hour, when the Department of Health comes out with new regulations and guidelines every few days, it’s very comforting to know that we can implement those changes across our 300-plus caregivers and 150-plus clients with little to no hiccups,” Marzik says.
“People are sick, and New York is not doing well right now. So to just check that off the list, to know that we have the flexibility through AlayaCare to track what needs to be tracked, is really comforting.”
On Thursday, April 2, AlayaCare founder and CEO Adrian Schauer will lead a webinar with Home Health Care News and Bassett Healthcare Network to explain what AlayaCare is doing to help home-based care providers adapt to COVID-19 challenges. Click here to register, and visit AlayaCare.com to learn more.