Whether in the home-based care industry or simply life in general, the people and businesses that have persevered in 2020 have been those equipped to safely adjust to emergencies. The year has seen more than its share of aggressive, natural phenomena, such as wildfires, tropical storms and flooding, and winter will soon bring powerful snowstorms and extreme cold.
Home care agencies and front-line staff must navigate all of these natural challenges, to say nothing of the ongoing battles with COVID-19. The emotional, psychological and logistical challenges of the pandemic are draining for home health staff, who themselves are already feeling taxed by the industry’s staffing shortages. Coupled with additional, external emergencies, this scenario can leave these staff members exhausted and with shaken confidence, if their organization does not provide adequate tools to support their daily needs for workplace safety.
By their very nature, emergency situations are unplanned and perhaps unpredictable. Yet solutions exist. Preparation and successful adaptation during an emergency is possible, and rests with a well developed readiness plan that addresses both immediate responses and post-emergency phases.
All phases of an emergency situation can be optimized through the integration of technology, both hardware and software, to deal with the chaos and upheaval that inevitably comes.
Tools that optimize six key areas of safety preparation — coordination, collaboration, communication learning management, risk management and data analytics systems — are essential for success. Here is a look at how home-based care providers can employ technology to improve each of these six areas on the path to emergency preparedness.
Home-based care providers need software tools that enable patient-centric care in the most cost-effective place: a patient’s home. And between sudden shifts in patient schedules, the need to triage essential service patients, a reduction in staffing and the potential increase in patient volume, the ability to coordinate care across settings has never been more important.
A software solution such as the one from CellTrak can give them the ability to seamlessly coordinate care and deliver sustainable, measurable value in the short- and long-term. This ensures that patients get the care they need when they need it, while giving staff the hours they need for work security.
Care coordination requires consistent collaboration, whether within a health care team or across multiple teams. The ability to connect people to each other at the last minute is critical to a successful response in an emergency situation. Whether that includes online collaboration tools, insight into the patient care plan or access to a shared electronic health record, collaboration among the team will ensure the best possible outcomes for the patient, especially when uncertainty arises.
Collaboration is impossible without communication, and during an emergency, communication tools are perhaps the most important technology a home-based care provider has. Email communication about impending dangers, secure messaging regarding sudden changes in patient condition and real time alerts and notifications of changes to schedules are all essential to staff members feeling supported and in the know about any evolving emergency situation.
During an emergency situation, changes in care delivery practices are common. Those changes can be tricky for new staff who are seeing new patients, and require agencies to provide additional education to these staff members about care or new protocol implementations.
In all of these situations, access to online education that is available to the staff in real time, when it suits them, enhances the educational uptake and eases the burden of the knowledge transfer and translation process.
In a home environment where care is being administered, technology that supports a shift to real-time knowledge about what is happening in the field can be life-changing. Real-time alerts and notifications around key service delivery factors — such as late starts, missed care and clinical alerts — allow for real-time intervention and response before a negative patient or staff experience actually happens.
Now more than ever, having real-time data at your fingertips is fundamental to making the most informed decision regarding staff, patients and impact on the organization, in both the immediate and future context. Data warehouses with business intelligence tools are key to prospective, retrospective and predictive analytics that every organization needs.
While emergency situations create chaos, access to and understanding of data analytics can create calm, and drive the coordination, collaboration, communication, learning management and risk management that agencies need to continue to ensure safe, quality care provision for patients, a safe working environment for staff and sustainability for the organization.
To learn more about how CellTrak can help your organization with emergency preparedness, visit www.celltrak.com.