As technology solutions come to market in home health care, they’re becoming utilized by providers to solve a myriad of challenges.
One such company is Higher Standards Home Health, a Dallas Texas-based home health agency. The company provides nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy in the home setting.
In an effort to further live up to its name, Higher Standards Home Health has begun utilizing a mobile communication platform to improve its clinical environment and make things easier on staff.
If Marcus Orlowski — CEO and co-founder of Higher Standards Home Health — had to describe the company’s communication channels prior to implementing a communication solutions platform, the word he’d use is “fragmented.”
In the old days, communication was done through text messaging and the company’s electronic medical records’ internal email system.
“It’s called K-mail, but the challenge with that is that it’s only available to users of the system, so just our staff,” Orlowski told Home Health Care News. “We could not really collaborate with patients, physicians or family members. It was a challenge, because again, everything that we did in order to try to maintain a cohesive collaborative environment, it was fragmented.”
Aside from text messaging and K-mail, the company would utilize hard copies, fax and email, which would create a time lag. Plus, text messaging is not HIPAA compliant.
In 2021, Higher Standards Home Health finally did implement a HIPAA-compliant communication solution platform within the company that allows for greater collaboration across the board, according to Orlowski. Specifically, Skyscape’s Buzz platform.
“Every patient has their own channel, and from there, we invite those that have a need or a desire to know about that patient’s caregiving,” he said. “This would include our clinicians that are involved with that patient, any of our administrative staff that needs to know anything about that patient, as well as the patient’s family members’ and physician. It’s a very collaborative environment where we’re able to communicate specifics about that patient, and we can upload documents.”
As a result, Higher Standards Home Health has seen improved patient outcomes.
“Our ability to quickly respond and pivot to the patient’s needs is one of the things that improves their outcome, but also a big factor is the reduction in hospitalizations,” Orlowski said.
Orlowski also points to the company’s communication channel revamp as having contributed to an increase in patient census.
“A social worker or case manager is able to really see how a patient is moving along our spectrum — from initial call, to first visit, to ongoing visits — and how they’re progressing,” he said. “I think that’s helped us receive more referrals and subsequently increased our census.”
Ultimately, Orlowski believes that tackling communication and embracing a technology platform to do so has given Higher Standards Home Health a competitive edge against its peers, especially on a referral basis.
“Everything is happening promptly, and it’s basically all hands on deck,” he said. “I think [case managers and social workers] really appreciate that.”