Deloitte’s 2021 survey of healthcare companies found that 92% were hoping to achieve a better patient experience through digitization. However, digital tools also have significant potential to enhance the home care worker experience.
Imagine a home health worker entering a patient’s home and having to spend 15 minutes shuffling through paperwork before he/she can start interacting with the patient. Housing patient records on a laptop or tablet would cut down on that time significantly and give caregivers more time to focus on the patient.
As the industry faces a rise in client growth rate amid a subsequent drop in caregiver growth, it’s critical for home health agencies to streamline operations for employees. Servicing more patients with fewer resources makes efficiency all the more important. While the digitalization of operations can certainly help home care workers accomplish more tasks in less time, it’s important to deploy the right applications and technologies for your workforce or risk inhibiting operations. This requires a solid understanding of how workers plan to use the technology — let’s take a look.
1. Embrace real-time communication and data-sharing
McKinsey predicts that up to $265 billion worth of care services could move from traditional healthcare facilities to the home by 2025. That means the industry will need to find ways to provide services at home even more efficiently than they do today. For many home care workers, using mobile solutions — whether they are tablets or handheld devices — is critical. These devices provide the ability to quickly look up information and communicate and share data with hospital staff in real-time through enhanced wireless connectivity.
IoT-enabled devices for patients, such as glucose monitors and electrocardiograms, will support much more real-time data sharing with providers. Remote patient monitoring technology that takes advantage of connected devices with IoT sensors will support a constant flow of real-time health data, including heart rate and blood pressure. Caregivers will be able to collaborate more seamlessly with hospital staff, as they will both have access to this data and can respond quickly if readings start to enter a dangerous territory.
2. Digitize manual workflows for greater accuracy
While the majority of healthcare leaders expect digital transformation to result in better patient satisfaction, 56% believe it will also support better quality of care and patient outcomes. Home care organizations are working towards this goal by using mobile devices equipped with barcode scanners to digitize manual workflows.
Home care workers often visit multiple patients per day, so manual workflows must be as efficient as possible. This way, they can spend less time record keeping and more time focused on the patient. The ability to scan a patient’s RFID badge means the care provider doesn’t have to record the time and date when they enter the home — eliminating any overlooked steps. Plus, the home health agency knows when their workers are coming and going between patients, which helps them meet compliance regulations and make sure all patients receive the care they need.
Likewise, care providers can scan the barcodes on prescription bottles to keep track of a patient’s medicine schedule. This makes it easier for another care provider to step in when needed and determine which medications a patient has already taken or still needs to take. This process also maintains a real-time medication record that the entire care team can consult if a complication arises.
3. Take advantage of new software now and in the future
In 2020 alone, more than 90,000 new consumer digital health apps were introduced in the marketplace. With consumers gaining this much access to their own health data on a mobile device, it raises the stakes for home care workers. They should have the same level of data access and ease of use for patient data as consumers do for their own health data.
Many software companies have developed apps for maintaining electronic health records. Beyond that, data analytics organizations are entering the health care space, providing tools that quickly interpret patient data. This gives home care workers an accurate picture of a patient’s status.
Mobile device hardware providers will often partner with health care software companies to give users seamless access to their applications. For that reason, it’s important to work with a mobile device provider that’s committed to expanding their offerings and has the right ecosystem of solution partners. This ensures your workforce will have access to the latest applications now and into the future.
Choose the right devices for your workforce
Home care workers can take advantage of mobile devices for a variety of purposes, but some of the most common use cases center on streamlining communication, data sharing, and digitizing manual tasks. Any solution deployed by an organization should include these capabilities and offer ease of use to help caregivers maintain efficiency and spend more time interacting with patients directly.
While the past few years have underscored the importance of digital transformation across the entire healthcare industry, giving home care workers mobile devices to digitize operations and access information at their fingertips will truly transform the sector by helping agencies minimize worker burnout and meet increased home care demand.
Aidan Clifford serves as national sales manager at Panasonic Connect North America, where he focuses on equipping the healthcare and public sector industries with rugged mobile solutions. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in public administration from Samford University and his master’s in business administration from Ohio University.