Hospice care has historically been grounded in person-to-person communication without a heavy reliance on technology. However, drastically increased hospice utilization and the pandemic-driven adoption of technology across health care settings have transformed the landscape entirely.
In order to stay competitive in a rapidly changing, tech-forward hospice environment, many providers are seeking technology that understands the unique aspects and goals of their organization and, above all, will improve patient outcomes. Also paramount are minimizing operational disruption, decreasing staff burden and driving ROI while seamlessly integrating new technology into the organization’s existing workflows.
Taking this leap of faith is a massive endeavor financially, operationally and clinically, but owners and operators can lean on 3 key indicators to determine if the time is right to adopt hospice tech for the first time, or seek a new solution that will best fit the organization:
- Compliance issues
- Staffing challenges
- Operational inefficiencies
Indicators That It’s Time for a Hospice Tech Change
First, compliance is top of mind as hospices acclimate to the value-based payment landscape and the use of electronic visit verification (EVV). The penalties attached to survey deficiencies today are more expensive than ever before, making compliance issues a significant threat to the bottom line. A hospice-specific solution can help agencies follow best practices around auditing, making them more likely to pass with less disruption to their business operations.
Next, is staffing — a focal point that will continue to pose challenges for hospice leaders into the foreseeable future.
“With [technology], everything that hospice staff could possibly need to take care of a patient and document the care is at their fingertips, and it is organized in a way that maximizes efficiency and improves the quality of care,” says Zaundra Ellis, vice president of hospice professional services for Dallas-based hospice and home health care software provider Axxess. “Our plans of care are hospice-specific — there’s a full library of them. And while some of the plans have to be customized for each scenario, [technology does] the heavy lifting so the staff can focus on the patient.”
Hospice professionals got into this business to provide care, and using technology that frees staff time to focus on care activities can be a profound recruiting and retention tool. It also enables providers to do more with less staff when the team members they have are not burdened by cumbersome and time-consuming manual processes.
Finally, operational inefficiencies are a clear signal that it’s time for a hospice tech change. While fighting slim margins and attempting to keep costs down, many providers struggle with outdated, fragmented recordkeeping and reporting systems. These operational inefficiencies interfere with revenue management and increase the risk of audits.
Frictionless Hospice Technology Implementation
Agencies are looking for value in their technology platform — not just in terms of dollars, but also in what it brings to all stakeholders. As such, operators need a partner that aligns with their mission and vision. Software providers have answered the call with hospice-specific solutions that not only drive compliance, staffing and operations, but seamlessly integrate with a provider’s existing workflows for a frictionless implementation.
“Ease of use is everything when it comes to technology, and that is what we strive for,” says Ellis. “Adaptation is important, and when technology is complicated, people are less likely to embrace it.”
Accessibility is imperative with the increasing average age of nurses and the growing volume of contract labor, and it spans into every facet of the care journey. The IDG center should be a technology platform’s connective tissue, and it makes new technology adoption more feasible for the core team without causing a lapse in quality of care.
Embracing the Future of Hospice Care
Hospice agencies that continue to rely on paper files and disparate software systems will struggle to compete in an environment where other health care professionals are sharing data with ease. They will also face difficulty with Medicare reimbursement.
The development of industry-specific platforms like Axxess Hospice — which was developed by nurses and clinicians in the hospice field — has allowed operators to make the transition and overcome these challenges. Providers that are facing compliance, staffing and operational inefficiencies as a result of their current record-keeping system or lack thereof are at a critical juncture in the hospice space, making hospice technology a necessity for the future.
Editorial Note: This article was originally published on Hospice News.