Melissa Kozak, RN
“With a team of former clinicians, nurses, technology gurus and care providers, we are working together to transform the way healthcare is delivered in the home and other non-acute care settings. We’ve walked a mile or two in your shoes, so we get it.”
The labor shortage is a top-of-the mind challenge for home-based care providers. What real-time communication strategies will help organizations mitigate the challenge of the labor shortage?
Due to the labor shortage, clinicians are expected to see more patients and do more work without having the tools or organizational support which make this possible. The only outcome is severe burnout.
The ideal solution is to bring on more clinicians, but if you can’t, you simply must create more time for the clinicians you currently have. The most immediate and effective way to do this is by incorporating technology where is makes sense.
First, take away the repetitive, non-value-added manual tasks so clinicians have more time for patient care. Then, try using secure messaging tools and video chat to triage a patient’s issue which can provide instant support rather than sending a clinician for an in person visit who may be over an hour away.
Finally, by sharing documents and communicating with your team, patients, family members and other providers via a secure platform, you can cut down on phone tag and missed updates, which in turn free up time with the additional benefits of error reduction and keeping all of your data in one central location. It also cuts down on after-hours communications on a personal device, giving often overburdened clinicians peace of mind that they can provide excellent care without impacting their personal time.
The challenges and complexities of COVID have limited face-to-face contact with patients. How can home-based care organizations find solutions to deeper connections with patients and their families and continue to retain engagement and high patient satisfaction?
Home-based care organizations are always looking to strengthen and improve connections with patients and their families. One surefire way to do this is with technology.
In other areas of life, patients and their families are using digital platforms to easily obtain information and answers to urgent questions. It’s important for providers to meet patients and caregivers where they are, yet a recent study found that home healthcare providers are falling short when it comes to real-time communication. In fact, 99% of home healthcare consumers surveyed said they would choose one provider over another and give higher satisfaction scores to a provider that enabled more real-time communication via mobile phone, tablet or computer.
By enabling greater engagement through digital platforms, home health organizations can provide tools that make it easier for patients and their families to get information and support when needed. In addition to a family group chat, this can also be enhanced through use of images, video chats between patients, nurses and other stakeholders and customized education that helps patients and families stay close to care plans and gain independence.
On the clinician side, leveraging technologies that can automatically escalate inbound patient and family caregiver communications to the right care team member also helps ensure timely communication and faster problem solving. Though COVID-19 has reduced face-to-face contact, engagement and high patient satisfaction continues to be achievable in a myriad of ways.
A challenge for home-based care providers is securing real-time communications with their care teams. Can you discuss examples of real-time communications and how it results in better efficiencies and productivity?
Integrated technology is necessary for the success of any home-based care team. The team needs to stay tightly connected to one another in order to provide quality care, especially given the varied locations of its members, who may be in the field, in an acute setting or even working from home.
From the moment a referral comes in the door, to the start of care, through the ongoing care of a patient, each team member needs to know what stage the patient is at in their care journey and what needs to be done next.
“99% of home healthcare consumers surveyed said they would choose one provider over another and give higher satisfaction scores to a provider that enabled more real-time communication via mobile phone, tablet or computer.”
If that information isn’t easily accessible, it results in errors, care delays and frustration (all of which can be avoided). The right platform will allow all members of the care team to communicate securely from any device and from any location with the certainty that they are working with the most relevant and up-to-date patient information.
That real-time communication may include discussing patient status in real time over secure messaging or sharing photos of new developments. Because those conversations need to make it back into the patient’s medical record, the right platform must also have integration as one of its central tenets.
Hospice and palliative care organizations have unique challenges coordinating care for complex-life experiences. Forward thinking organizations must transform their care delivery strategies to best serve their patients, family caregivers, and family members.
Explain specific solutions to enhance patient and caregiver communications.
As a nurse myself, I’m familiar with the specific challenges faced by these organizations. That said, COVID-19 has compounded the typical challenges faced by hospice and palliative care organizations.
Now, family caregivers are afraid of infecting their loved ones. Accordingly, visits are limited and the coordination of care must also happen remotely. This is compounded by the family and/or caregivers having competing schedules or living in different places.
From the clinical side, you also have the challenge of moving the entire care team, which in these settings may include a nurse, medical director, social worker and chaplain, not just forward, but in step. With technology such as secure direct messaging and telehealth, we’ve managed to attenuate these particular challenges raised, in part, as a result of the pandemic.
Secure direct messaging, for example, may include a group chat with members of the care team where patients and family caregivers can pose questions and receive relevant educational information or training. It also allows easy sharing and signing of paperwork to support continuity of care and connectivity, regardless of where a family caregiver may be.
A new study published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies found home healthcare patients with a preferred language other than English had a readmission rate of 20.4%, compared to an 18.5% readmission rate for home healthcare patients whose preferred language was English. One of the authors concluded that communicating with patients in their preferred language can increase access to care at an earlier stage, cut the number of readmissions, and help patients transition from one care setting to another. To help mitigate readmissions and poorer outcomes, how can providers tackle this issue?
Communication is an absolutely vital part of home care. We want to make sure patients and their families can advocate for themselves and proceed through their care journey with complete understanding. With this, employing technology that enables multi-lingual patient and family communication is critical.
With these tools, users can select to chat in their preferred language through an integration with Google Translate, allowing for one of 93 different languages. They can also translate any communication into whichever language the patient’s cell phone is set, again, meeting patients where they are. This empowers both the patient and their family to collect as much structured data as is available and take an active part in their care.
How can home-based care providers create real-time communications with physicians to decrease paperwork and to get reimbursed faster?
Real-time collaboration solutions allow the entire care team to collaborate and communicate with ease. For example, app-less signature capabilities make widespread communication simple and effective, reducing friction from the communication process without any reduction in security.
With these tools, a secure link is sent via email or text and with one click, a signed form is automatically captured in the EMR and sent directly to the clinician, billing or supplies tracker as needed, without requiring a unique login, app or password. This reduces mistakes in care and delays in reimbursement.
Furthermore, with the app-less signature, physicians never have to log into a separate system besides their EMR and we built our solution with that in mind. The creation of these solutions stemmed from a desire to reduce as much friction as possible from/for all participants in a patient’s care journey and helps to build stronger referral relations that lend themselves to higher quality patient care.
About Melissa Kozak, RN
Melissa is a registered nurse and the Co-Founder and President of CitusHealth. Before starting CitusHealth in about 2015, 2016, she spent about eight years as a post-acute care nurse working in the home infusion industry. She visited patients and families in their home teaching them how to operate complex equipment and administer infusions.
Melissa is a visionary entrepreneur and seasoned clinician with deep domain understanding of the home-based care industry and extensive clinical care and operational insight. As the Co-Founder of CitusHealth, she created the post-acute care industry’s first end-to-end digital health collaboration platform to solve the complexities of managing post-acute
CitusHealth, a wholly owned subsidiary of ResMed, is a digital health transformation leader that enables real-time, secure collaboration between patients, care teams, care partners, and family members to optimize the patient experience and positively impact the financial outcome of the care provider. Founded by a post-acute care nurse with domain expertise, and an internationally recognized digital health expert, CitusHealth delivers the only comprehensive on-demand digital and mobile platform that sets a new standard of patient, caregiver, family, and partner engagement. For more information, visit citushealth.com.
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