Home healthcare services continue to outperform the wider healthcare market because of a number of benefits, including better patient outcomes and cost effective care delivery.
Whilst a number of patient-focused technological solutions have come to market, relatively little effort has gone towards solving some big challenges that field based healthcare workers face. With the increasing complexity of home healthcare services combined with the pressure from funders to prove quality and outcomes, healthcare organisations are being forced to implement new solutions that empower their frontline healthcare staff to deliver a measurable, efficient and high quality service.
At psHEALTH, we have been working closely with the leading home healthcare companies that are turning towards mobile devices and applications that enable their frontline staff deliver more complex home care services with better control, quality and cost efficiency.
But, what should these healthcare worker mobile applications do? Based on our experience, here are the five things business managers should focus on as they embark on a journey to mobile enable their healthcare workforce.
1) Introduce a Scheduling and Rostering solution
Having a proper Scheduling & Rostering System (SRS) is a must. Installing a modest scheduling system, even if it doesn’t account for all the complexities of your business, will payoff quickly by providing much better visibility and control. A good SRS can produce 2-3x ROI in less than 12 months through increased staff utilisation and reduced admin time.
From healthcare field workers’ perspective, their visit schedule should be available on the mobile device. Furthermore any changes, including intra-day schedule changes, should flow back almost instantly. Direct conversation with the centre-based admin staff should only happen when unexpected events not scheduled within the system are raised.
2) Send task details to the healthcare field worker
Field based healthcare staff are often forced to make complex clinical decisions based on paper records, which are often incomplete and/or outdated. Without reliable, accurate and up-to-date information, healthcare field workers can’t be expected to make correct clinical decisions.
Business managers and solution designers should be aware of task background information changes based on the service context – it can be patient summary record, care plan or previous assessment results. What information is appropriate for a particular task will depend on the service contract. These contracts can change over time. Mobile enablement solution should have the in-built flexibility to accommodate these changes without costly and time-consuming customisations.
3) Make it easy to capture information
Whilst the vast majority of healthcare workers deliver wonderful home care service, little information is ever recorded back in the corporate IT systems. Without properly collecting information it’s hard for the service providers to either measure performance or confidently present outcomes to the funders.
Data collection at point of service, both clinical and operational, is at the heart of any healthcare field force mobile enablement solution. Data collection processes should be made easy for the field workers, ideally in form of well-structured forms, relevant to the task. These forms can vary based on the service type and over the lifetime of the solution. Hence its imperative that the mobile enablement solution also includes a forms builder that business users can use to both construct new forms and attach forms to various services that their organisation offers.
4) Extend, don’t replace, existing corporate IT systems
Chances are, all the information that your field staff need already exists in one or more of your existing corporate IT systems. Mobile enablement should intelligently integrate these existing systems and build only parts that are missing, which in most cases will be the actual mobile application.
The key here is using a mobile enablement platform that offers the widest choice of integration technology and also includes an intelligent integration engine to tie the different participating corporate IT systems together.
For example, the mobile enablement solution should extract scheduled visits from SRS and related task background information from electronic health records and/or case management systems. On the other hand, the same mobile solution should, on service completion, send visit details back to SRS and update EHR or the case management system with the collected operational/clinical information.
All of this should happen without significant modifications to the existing corporate IT systems.
5) Don’t forget end user experience
Field based healthcare workers’ experience is absolutely key for healthy adoption. Systems should be easy to learn and use, all information like task schedule, background information, and collected data should be packed together in one view, and the application should be reliable.
Furthermore, no mobile initiative is likely to succeed without credible offline functionality. Seamless offline capability prevents the need for alternative operating models if/when a network is not reliable – a highly likely scenario. Finally, it is important that the mobile solution works across multiple devices and is easy to install and monitor.
Empowering frontline home healthcare staff with better technology is absolutely critical for organisations wanting to deliver cutting edge home healthcare service.
Please get in touch if you want to know how psMobile can help you accelerate through the journey of healthcare workforce mobile enablement.