Healthcare reform, rapid growth in the senior population and increasing demand for care options means home health and hospice providers are ideally poised to leverage improved technology.

Q: What is the current market landscape in home healthcare?

The current landscape presents many opportunities for home health agencies to streamline and improve care in this unique, mobile setting to address a range of issues:

  • Medicare reimbursement – new penalties for hospitals with high avoidable readmissions will put home health agencies in a position to step up to the plate and better ensure such readmissions do not occur.
  • Aging population – baby boomers recently reached retirement age, and as a result, the senior population is now the largest population. This puts a strain on the healthcare system in general as people are also now living longer, requiring more care over a longer continuum.
  • Rural healthcare – here we see more underinsured, uninsured and lower-income individuals than other populations, and a population that’s one of the fastest aging segments.
  • Nursing shortage – this will continue as baby boomers get older and the demand for home care increases.

Q: What are top regulatory and compliance issues impacting home healthcare providers?

  • ICD-10 – the deadline for all healthcare entities, including home health agencies, to convert from ICD-9 to ICD-10 coding is October 1, 2014.
  • Meaningful use Stage 2 – two notable requirements: 1) provide patients the ability to view online, download and transmit their health information within 36 hours after discharge from the hospital; and 2) automatically track medications from order to administration using assistive technologies in conjunction with an electronic medication administration record (eMAR). This means that, post-hospital, patients will need a way to keep record of their data, including printing information at home or at the site of their continued care.
  • EHR adoption – ARRA legislation includes financial incentives for the adoption and meaningful use of an EHR. As healthcare organizations vie for these incentives, home health agencies must be able to communicate with the spectrum of other organizations where patients have received treatment. This means having the right technology in place to access, share and document patient information at the home care site.
  • CMS guidelines – as of April 29, 2013 CMS posted its new proposed rule governing quality measures for Medicare Hospice, which will take effect October 1, 2013. This expands the requirements for collecting and reporting quality measures for hospice.

70% of healthcare provider organizations use mobile devices to access EMRs, according to an October 2012 report from KLAS. (Source:

What are some examples of technology that supports mobility for home health?

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In 2010 the number of people receiving home care was 12 million with 33,000 providers. (Source: National Association for Home care and Hospice)

Q: What are the challenges of taking a highly regulated industry mobile?

Mobile device use will only continue to grow in healthcare. In addition, the continuum of care continues to expand as home health providers must now interact with long-term and post-acute care providers, rehab centers, ambulatory centers and more.

The home health challenges that come with ensuring seamless mobile access to data and information to support mobile information sharing include data security, compliance and anywhere information accessibility.

Home health providers are tasked with providing documents at the point of care that can serve as treatment records, can facilitate transitions among providers and can provide patient education to help improve overall treatment satisfaction. As more of this exchange takes place in the mobile realm, data security becomes paramount. Given HIPAA mandates around patient data security, agencies are tasked with ensuring the technology provided to home health aides can successfully fulfill the need for data recall at a patient’s home. Likewise, any technology used to promote healthcare on location must afford anywhere data access.

Collection of data at the bedside was up from 30% in 2011 to 45% in 2012 (2nd Annual HIMSS Mobile Technology Survey)

Roughly half of consumers predict that within the next three years mobile health will improve the convenience, cost and quality of their healthcare. (Source: Research2Guidance survey, Pricewaterhouse Coopers)

Q: What are some examples of technology that supports mobility for home health?

The idea of the “point of care” has moved beyond hospital walls. Wherever there is a patient to care for, that’s where the point of care now is. This includes the home health arena. Technologies that help increase mobility and streamline the care provided in-home include tablets and smartphones, which allow for the viewing of patient data on-the-go, barcode scanners which can help verify the accuracy of medication given against the identity of the patient, and mobile printers which enable caregivers to print a variety of assets from barcode labels to full page educational instructions and receipts.

Mobile device use to improve health care delivery and outcomes could double access to healthcare services while lowering administrative costs through better data collections – potentially reducing seniors’ health care costs by 25% (Source: alliedhealthworld.com)

Where can I find more information about home healthcare?

  • The National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) – nahc.org
  • Visiting Nurses’ Association (VNAA) – vnaa.org
  • Home Healthcare Nurses’ Association – hhna.org
  • American Association for Homecare – aahomecare.org

 

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