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Interoperability-Driven Healthcare: Technology to Power Care in the Home

Home-based care has come a long way since 2020. But for the industry to rise to the next level and better leverage innovative technologies, a greater degree of interoperability is needed, according to Tim Ingram, executive vice president of interoperability at Axxess.

In this Future in Focus interview, Home Health Care News sits down with Ingram to learn all about the importance of interoperability and how it’s advancing home-based care.

In your view, what are the top two to three ways that technology specifically has advanced home-based care in recent years?

Ingram: I think it’s allowed for more objective pursuit of actual outcomes. When you think about value-based purchasing, or really when you think about any payer, they want to be able to see a return on their investment. They want to be able to see improved outcomes.

Improved technology is going to provide that objective pursuit of those outcomes. Improved technology is also going to allow, or has allowed in some cases — particularly for those using Axxess — better and easier in-home documentation. If I’m documenting in the home and I’m providing the care, that means the information is more accurate, and it’s also easier to share across the disciplines. That will then allow the removal of complicated back-office workflow requirements.

It’s nice to say, “Oh, I’ve got to have a workflow in the back office.” But I’ve seen way too often, from personal experience, where that so-called beautiful workflow to ensure everything happens becomes a burden more than an enhancement to the oversight of care.

With improved technology, caregivers and leaders of caregiving organizations can focus on how they’re going to improve care instead of having to check workflow boxes.

And I’ll go back to what I said earlier about interoperability: Without good technology, you’re never going to reach a healthy state of interoperability.

What emerging technology trend do you see disrupting home-based care most over the next five years, and why?

That to me is an interesting question because you hear people talk all the time about staffing challenges. At Axxess, we think differently about staffing challenges. It’s more of a staffing-optimization issue than it is a staffing challenge or a lack of staffing. Automated staffing technology and the ability of non-employee clinicians to work when and where they want to will really disrupt home-based care.

Just think about how Uber disrupted the taxi market. That’s something like Axxess Care, which allows clinicians to say, “I’d like to do a visit in this area of town on these days of the week.” Our technology, through Axxess Care, facilitates that.

I think another thing that will continue to disrupt home-based care is the consumer mentality of the aging population. As we see more and more baby boomers who, maybe later in life, learn to embrace technology, they’re going to start asking more and more, “If I can order pizza online, if I can make a deposit online, why can’t I order my care online as well?”

Something like Axxess Care is going to help us get to that.

Another thing that will continue to disrupt is online and remote training. Gone are the days when organizations are going to be able to require staff to come in and spend a week in their office, watching videos and going through training. While it may be great, it just wears the employee out by the end of their first week. Online and remote training, what we have started calling microlearning, I think is really going to be a disruptor for organizations’ ability not just to attract staff, but then to keep them when they’re there.

Because if they can do that type of online and remote training, they can also look at career advancement for those employees once they bring them into their fold.

When we think about advancing home-based care, we can talk about moving the needle with a variety of key decision-makers and gatekeepers. Looking exclusively at the policy space, what are some home-based care advancements you’d like to see turn into reality?

I would love to see the proposed palliative care demonstration come to fruition. Through that palliative care demonstration, what you’re going to see is more and more home health organizations realizing the value of palliative care, even if all they’re doing is providing home health. Obviously, there are more and more organizations that are spanning the continuum of care in the home, and not just focusing on hospice or not just focusing on home health. That proposed palliative care demonstration would allow for a better progression of the patient through the care at home continuum.

Also, advancements in value-based purchasing, such that payers don’t assume they have to have national agreements in place. Those national agreements, quite frankly, lock out some potentially excellent care from regional and local providers.

And more adequate reimbursement and accurate analysis of payment. When the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) and U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are reviewing profit margins, they need to consider the whole picture. I think that has the ability to move the needle as well. When MedPAC stops saying, “Every year you’ve got to cut, you’ve got to cut, you’ve got to cut.” When they realize the so-called 15% to 20% profit margins are not profit margins, I think that’s really going to be able to move the needle to improving care in the home.

Editorial Note: This article was originally published on Home Health Care News. We are sharing this piece in three parts; this is part two.


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