Voices: David Crist, President, Brother Mobile Solutions

This article is sponsored by Brother Mobile Solutions. In this Voices interview, Home Health Care News sits down with Brother Mobile Solutions President David Crist to learn about Brother’s Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) offering and how the company is helping the home health care industry adapt for the future with its PocketJet mobile printing technology — a wireless printer no larger than a box of spaghetti.

Tell us a little about your background and how you came to lead Brother Mobile Solutions.

Dave Crist: I started with Brother Mobile Solutions back in 2008. The company came about as the result of an acquisition of the printing and imaging assets from Pentax, the camera company. We surrounded that with other B2B solutions and product offerings. Now we’re about four times the size we were when we first started — we grew from five people to 50, with more growth expected on the horizon.

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It’s been a great story over the past 12 years to get from where we were to now. Our approach has always been “intrapreneurial” – an entrepreneurial company within a larger corporation, with a mandate to propel innovation and growth. We have always acted like a start-up, focusing on anticipating and meeting the needs of mobile workforces and mobile enterprises in a number of verticals. Home health care is one of those vertical markets that surfaced with a tremendous amount of opportunity, based on the unique needs and challenges in this growing and changing industry.

What are you seeing as the top challenges in the home health segment right now, given the very uncertain and unusual market climate?

We’re focused on addressing home health care empathetically, because it’s experiencing a high degree of evolution and disruption — you might even say “chaos.” Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, home health care already faced several challenging issues. There was a significant amount of consolidation happening. Technology acquisition was a question, reimbursement was a question, capitalization was a question. Additionally, keeping up with the constantly changing regulatory requirements has its own unique challenges.

The pandemic has multiplied those challenges, now that demand for home health care is skyrocketing as more patients stay home to limit their risk of exposure.

The challenges were real concerns, and then everybody had to pivot to address what’s going on in the present. How is Brother Mobile Solutions helping?

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Brother Mobile Solutions has always focused on how to apply technology to solve business challenges and align with our customers’ changing needs. So we’re trying to put solutions in place that can help home health providers from a financial perspective as well as a technology and compliance perspective.

It all goes back to our value proposition to this industry, which is technology enablement for frontline clinicians. There has been a steady march toward arming clinicians with access to electronic patient health care records, whether on a laptop, tablet or smartphone. There is a print component to that technology enablement, mostly because of compliance requirements.

In addition to being a best practice, many states require clinicians to leave behind medication lists, physical therapy instructions or follow-up care instructions. In the past, that meant clinicians had to finish their rounds, return to their office, write their notes and then mail all this information to the family. This involved a huge lag time and, in a lot of cases, the information would arrive after the next visit.

That’s where our flagship product, the PocketJet, fits in. This compact, lightweight device prints full-size 8.5×11 documents, has a battery that lasts for hours, pairs seamlessly with virtually any mobile device and fits perfectly in your medical bag. Clinicians can quickly and easily print the required documents in the patient’s home, right at the point of care. Patients and their families get the information they need immediately.

A number of the bigger home healthcare organizations have already done major rollouts, but others lack the necessary IT support or capital. That’s why we introduced our hardware-as-a-service (HaaS) offering. We said, “Let’s make it really, really easy for you to sign up and get this technology on a subscription basis.”*

How does the Brother HaaS subscription service work?

We’ve heard in the past from many home health care providers, “We love your solution and wish we could buy it for all our clinicians, but at the current time, we don’t have any capital to implement this.” Our HaaS offering subscription service which we call “Shift & Print’’ – can help home care organizations acquire the technology they need without major hit to the bottom line by shifting acquisition costs from capital expenditures (CapEx) to operating expenditures (OpEx).

Essentially, instead of paying for technology up front and in a lump sum, home health organizations make a predictable monthly payment that covers hardware, accessories and even warranties. It’s a procurement model that allows providers to take advantage of the latest technology without worrying about the financial strain.

Tell me a little bit about how mobile printing helps home health care providers in this day and age.

Increasingly, health care reimbursement models are going to continue to be based on how many patients a clinician can care for in a typical day. Mobile printing can be a big boost to clinician productivity.

For example, one of our customers told us that the ability to print documents at point-of-care helps their home health clinicians save up to 20 minutes per patient visit. Over the course of the day, those savings add up to enough time to see an additional patient.

With the ability to print on-demand during a visit, clinicians can spend more time focusing on the patient rather than administrative tasks. This both improves the patient experience and clinician satisfaction, which in turn supports retention. Recruiting and retaining home health clinicians is especially important, given workforce shortages.

You mentioned some of the documents that are often printed at the point of care, such as therapy instructions and medication lists. Are there others?

Yes, there’s quite a range. For example, at the initial patient visit, clinicians typically evaluate the patient’s living environment to identify any hazards or things that should be changed. That’s an important checklist to leave behind in the home.

Then there’s the therapy piece, such as physical or respiratory therapy. The medication list is a given. It has to be current because it changes all the time. And there’s a whole bevy of documentation requirements specific to registration in hospice. The plan of care, who’s providing it, power of attorney — all those kinds of things are done right then and there.

Having the most up-to-date documentation on-site is critical to good care coordination. One patient could have as many as four or five visits in a week — they could include a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a home health care nurse — and they all need to provide real-time documentation as to what they did so care isn’t repeated or missed.

How have your customers responded to the mobile printing capability?

Along with all the efficiency and productivity benefits, they’re finding new and different ways to use the technology. Some use it for group scheduling, some to streamline scheduling, and others to hold virtual team meetings.

Some of the mobile technology adopters are also starting to see higher ratings under the CMS star rating system. Their efficiency, levels of care and range of full-service offerings appear to be garnering them better patient ratings.

Any hints as to what’s coming ahead from Brother Mobile Solutions printing?

The next iteration of the Shift & Print service will offer the added convenience of an auto-reorder feature for consumables. Plans are also in the works to add hardware-compatible third-party products, including smartphones, tablets and rugged handhelds, as well as software from Brother or a third-party vendor, to the solution.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Brother Mobile Solutions provides a series of mobile printing solutions that allow users to produce high-quality documents, labels, receipts, and tags on the go. To learn more about Brother Mobile’s full-page PocketJet printer and hardware-as-a-service subscription, visit brothermobilesolutions.com.

The Voices Series is a sponsored content program featuring leading executives discussing trends, topics and more that are shaping their industry, in a question-and-answer format. For more information on Voices, please contact sales@agingmedia.com.

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*Shift & Print Subscription Service is subject to credit approval.

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