This article originally appeared in Business Solutions. To read the article on that site, click here.

Dave Crist

David Crist | President, Brother Mobile Solutions

These are challenging times for home healthcare providers. Reimbursement is declining as the healthcare industry shifts from a volume-based, fee-for-service approach to a value-based, accountable care model.  This transformation accelerates pressure on home health providers to operate more efficiently, deliver better patient outcomes and market themselves to hospitals as trusted partners. At the same time, providers have to comply with a growing number of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) mandates.

Forward-thinking home health providers have begun to recognize that robust IT solutions can be game-changers. By automating clinical and operational processes from patient documentation to scheduling to billing, IT solutions enable providers to empower caregivers, engage patients and families, improve profitability, support compliance and sharpen their competitive edge.

There are three critical reasons why the home health provider market offers unprecedented opportunity for VARs with robust IT solutions that integrate software, mobile devices, and peripherals such as mobile printers:

  1. Enhance clinician efficiency, mobility, and productivity: Highly portable laptops, tablets, and smartphones, coupled with the right software and peripherals, can streamline workflow and transform home health care delivery.  Nurses, therapists and other clinicians can quickly and easily document vital data, access patient records, and update medication lists and drug interactions — right in patient homes. Mobile printers are key to any integrated technology solution, saving valuable time and speeding proper treatment by enabling clinicians to handle tasks such as printing consent, waiver and refusal of service forms and getting the required signatures on the spot.Today’s compact, lightweight mobile printers comfortably fit in field bags, backpacks and large purses, making them ideal for highly mobile clinicians. With no inks or toners to maintain or replace, thermal mobile printers are reliable performers even in extremely hot or freezing cold environments. The current generation can print as fast as six pages per minute, with high resolution text, graphics and pictures. They connect directly and seamlessly to laptops, tablets or smartphones via USB, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi technology, and compatible models are available for iOS and Android operating systems.
  2. Improve patient safety and quality of care: Robust IT systems that put real-time data at clinicians’ fingertips in patient homes may help to boost safety and quality of care. In addition, automating processes and enabling point-of-care electronic documentation helps reduce errors and ensure that important information is not overlooked.Incorporating mobile printing capability can help contribute to patient safety. Clinicians can easily and conveniently print teaching guides, point-of-care treatment plans and patient master demographics to leave behind with patients, family members and caregivers. This ability to educate family and caregivers about patient conditions and convey complex information about patient care in what may be an emotionally charged situation can prove crucial to avoiding hospital readmissions and any associated penalties.
  1. Support compliance: Integrated IT solutions also support home health providers’ ability to comply with CMS mandates from ICD-10 to HIPAA to OASIS and beyond. For example, CMS requires that hospice and home healthcare workers leave a detailed medication list at the patient’s residence.  Handwriting lists is both time-consuming and prone to error. However, clinicians equipped with mobile printers can quickly print full-page, 8½ x11 hard copies during a home visit and immediately hand them to patients and/or family members and caregivers.  Printing these updated and personalized medication lists — along with helpful administration instructions and drug interaction data — will help ensure compliance as well as enhances adherence.In addition to current CMS mandates, proposed HHA rules call for home health providers to furnish patients with an individualized written plan of care that would set out, among other things, the frequency and duration of therapeutic interventions. The proposed § 4 84.60(a)(1) rule also states that each patient would have the right to receive a copy of his or her individualized HHA plan of care to be kept in the home. Clearly these new mandates, when approved, will further underscore the advantage of including mobile printers as part of an integrated IT solution for home health providers.

With the healthcare industry’s growing emphasis on providing a full continuum of patient care beyond hospital walls, home healthcare will play an increasingly vital role in the future. But for providers to thrive in today’s demanding environment, they need to work with an IT partner who understands the multiple challenges they juggle and can deliver comprehensive, highly mobile solutions that minimize costs, maximize efficiency and optimize patient care.

Originally published in Business Solutions, August 18, 2015: 3 Reasons Home Health Spells Opportunity for VARS

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