This article is sponsored by CDW Healthcare. In this Voices interview, Home Health Care News sits down with Liz Cramer, Chief Post-acute and Senior Care Strategist at CDW Healthcare, to learn how providers are using technology to help staff operate at the top of their licenses. She also discusses some of the key takeaways from CDW’s recent roundtable discussion around the top tech trends in health care and explains what her team is doing to help their customers act upon those trends.
Home Health Care News: What career experiences do you most draw from in your role today?
Liz Cramer: Previously, as a regional operator for large national therapy providers, I worked very closely with executives and frontline caregivers. It helped me understand the continuum of care and the importance of home health’s role in the big picture. When I’m speaking with customers, it’s very easy for me to put myself in their shoes because I understand the paperwork needed to admit someone, the processes for coordinating all the care, the staff, the orders, the meds, the DME — plus making sure that documentation is complete, compliant, timely, and staff are working at the top of their licenses.
Again, it’s very easy for me to sit down with a customer and have those conversations because I spent most of my clinical life doing that.
What are some of the greatest ways you see tech helping home-based care providers from a clinical standpoint today?
By no means do I think technology is going to fix everything, but it will certainly help optimize staff workflow. With the staffing shortages today, technology allows nursing staff and providers to automate some of the manual processes they’ve been using for so many years. For example, things like remote patient monitoring allow for one nurse, an LPN, or in some cases, a trained tech to monitor multiple patient vitals at one time, even when those patients are at home.
Automation will always be a part of the discussion, and when it’s feasible, it puts more time back into caregivers’ days to focus on their patients. As technology continues to grow in our industry, making sure staff are securely connected will be critical. In the home health setting, they’re moving from a campus or continuing care community with assisted living (AL) or independent living (IL) patients into the outside community, where they’re seeing patients in their homes. Making sure caregivers have securely connected devices that allow for point-of-care documentation and the ability to communicate timely with other caregivers is key.
CDW Healthcare recently conducted a roundtable series on the top tech trends in home-based care. What were some of the trends and key takeaways you identified?
Much of the discussion revolved around data analytics, and how providers are using data to enhance care. It’s not just about collecting data, but also using data to improve outcomes.
Interoperability was also a major talking point. That’s been in discussion across the continuum for a very long time as providers figure out how to make interoperability work with so many different EMRs. We are hearing more and more from providers about the interoperability challenge as it relates to efficiency in care delivery.
How is CDW approaching these trends with its customer base?
It depends on the customer and their pain points. We work with so many providers, and each one is at a different stage of technology adoption. Sometimes that discussion is about infrastructure, which is much different in home health than it is in a skilled nursing facility or a campus because they have caregivers out in the community. Home health staff are constantly moving around and in some areas, they have great coverage, but in other areas, they don’t. That can lead to very different discussions from an infrastructure standpoint.
When infrastructure is not an issue or pain point for our customer, we work with them on staff workflows, potentially pulling in additional resources to discuss topics like virtual care strategy and the digital transformation of their business, as well as automation when appropriate. With CDW’s recent acquisition of Sirius [Computer Solutions], we’ve added some additional resources including a team member whose focus is data analytics. It all depends on where the customer is in their journey.
Do you have any overarching implementation advice for providers that are adopting new technologies?
When you’re looking at technology, look at the problem you’re trying to solve. Align that technology with established key performance indicators (KPIs) for all of your team players — meaning looking at your nursing staff, your executive level, your techs, maybe even the office staff. Anyone who is going to be involved in this needs to be part of that decision.
Having those established KPIs gives you a barometer for that piece of technology or solution set so you’re able to look down the road in 30 to 60 days and figure out what needs to be adjusted. What’s going well? What’s not going well? Am I going to continue this process? Do we need to step back and reassess?
It’s also important to avoid adding to caregivers’ and clinicians’ plates when adopting technology. Once it’s in place and processes are working, it should allow providers to take that manual process away and automate it with technology.
How can home-based care providers ensure they have the proper foundation for becoming more tech-enabled?
I mentioned the importance of a strong, secure infrastructure for supporting staff. Right now, with the staffing challenges, providers cannot afford to have clinicians spending time trying to stay connected so they can complete documentation and other required tasks — that’s not efficient. If I’m working in an area that doesn’t have good coverage or I don’t have a device that is Wi-Fi enabled, I can’t complete documentation and I may have difficulty communicating with the care team if there is an emergency. That can be a big struggle.
If those basics are not in place, I would not suggest adding additional technologies to someone’s plate.
Finish this sentence: “The top strategy that home-based care providers should employ in 2022 to best prepare for 2023 is…”
Look beyond how we’ve historically provided care.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
CDW is a leading multi-brand technology solutions provider to business, government, education and healthcare customers in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. Our broad array of offerings range from hardware and software to integrated IT solutions such as security, cloud, data center and networking. Learn more at www.cdwg.com/seniorcare.
The Voices Series is a sponsored content program featuring leading executives discussing trends, topics and more shaping their industry in a question-and-answer format. For more information on Voices, please contact [email protected].