The Current State of Home Healthcare

We are pleased to have as a guest writer Greg Pino, Vice President of Operations and Sales at New Jersey Respiratory Associates (NJRA).

The dynamics of home healthcare are changing significantly for everyone involved: patients, caregivers, home health providers, and more.

At New Jersey Respiratory Associates (NJRA), we have observed and adapted to these evolving trends over the past three decades. We are a family-owned business founded 35 years ago that provides services like 24/7 on-demand respiratory therapy, equipment support, and education for skilled nursing facilities.

It’s easy for mobile health providers to get left behind by the changing market forces, healthcare technology, and other variables. But by transforming NJRA into a digital powerhouse that makes full use of mobile workforce management, we have successfully grown our client base to approximately 150 nursing facilities around New Jersey.

The Changing Landscape of Home Healthcare

In recent years, the home healthcare market has seen phenomenal growth. As the global market is expected to top $364 billion by 2022, let’s understand the key factors behind this explosive growth:

Increase in Aging Population

By 2020, it’s expected that there will be 55 million Americans aged 65 or older, and more than 98 million by 2060. This is greatly increasing the demand for healthcare providers, and particularly home healthcare providers. Interestingly, one-third of the existing nursing population is also approaching retirement age.

Healthcare organizations are going to face challenging times figuring out how to recruit and retain talent, increase efficiency, cater to patient needs, and grow the business in this climate.

Consumerization of Healthcare

For years, the healthcare industry has adopted a B2B approach to its operations, relegating consumers to be passive players. The consumerization of healthcare is shifting the patient to be an active consumer of healthcare products and services.

It’s about putting the consumer first.

Customer expectations are at an all-time high as companies like Amazon and Netflix have raised the bar, providing high-quality service experiences. Their service delivery framework has pushed other industries to scrutinize their own business models.

So, what makes the customer happy and more likely to return to a specific caregiver?

  • Empathy: 59% of Americans cite doctor-patient relationship and caregiver personality as determinants in quality care. In essence, they’re looking for providers who can be empathetic to their concerns.
  • Use of Technology: Providing a tech-savvy experience is an important factor. While older patients may not see this as a must-have, the younger generation(s) in the family, who tend to be key influencers in making caregiver decisions, expect mature technological solutions.

Mobile Workforce Management

While on one end, we work on developing patient-centric strategies, on the other end of this spectrum, we also need to keep our caregivers happy. We need to offer them a mechanism to perform their daily operations in a quick, efficient, and effective manner.

With mobile workforce management, we can give caregivers the tools to do their jobs effectively, while increasing our focus on key business objectives. Whether it’s reducing overhead costs, improving patient satisfaction, or improving employee retention, the right mobile workforce management is key.  

Mobile workforce management gives a healthcare organization like us the ability to manage complex schedules in a way that we couldn’t before. With mobile workforce management in place, care coordinators have better visibility into the entire workforce (even for independent contractors), and they can better plan for variables like travel time and new appointments. Our home health workers benefit from proactive schedule updates, mobile-friendly data entry, and the ability to reference patient data from a secure mobile system.

Workforce Management Tools Help the Future of Home Health

Using a workforce management solution, such as Skedulo integrated with Salesforce, helps tackle these challenges in the home healthcare space. For NJRA, the impact has been astounding: more than 20% growth YoY and a 33% increase in accounts per therapist over the past three years.

Let’s look at a few scenarios in which the solution helped NJRA.

Common System for Multiple User Groups

At NJRA, we have two types of field workers: respiratory therapists, who perform the clinical work, and technicians, who manage equipment and supplies. While we previously had separate forms and processes for each type of user, we now have a single, customized digital system for all users. This integrated system reduces overhead costs and complexity while increasing our workforce visibility across the board.

Intelligent Scheduling

Our scheduling, which used to be done on a weekly basis, can now accommodate a long-term view. For example, if a therapist needs to check on a patient once a week, a weekly appointment is scheduled in advance over the next six months. If the patient exits the system in the middle of the process, the corresponding appointments are automatically cancelled.

We also use the system to optimize travel and workforce routing. For example, if there is an on-demand patient visit request today and another patient scheduled for tomorrow at the same facility, the system can recommend the therapist to combine these visits. This improves our workforce productivity and efficiency (plus, it makes for a better therapist experience).

Centralized Data

Skedulo’s integration with Salesforce has given us a centralized view of data, which helped us improve field service operations.

For instance, when a technician visited a facility in the past, he or she would fill out a form with details on equipment delivered and collected and submit it in the office. At the end of month, the admin team would reconcile this data and translate the information into invoicing and other tracking systems. Also, they would post clarifications to the technician, who may not remember all the relevant information at the end of the month.

However, with a centralized view, the completed digital form is now immediately reconciled, and the invoice is automatically generated.

Also, Skedulo’s ability to collect data offline and later sync with the central system eliminates our dependencies on unreliable Wi-Fi networks at nursing facilities.

What Home Healthcare Leaders Can Do

It’s an opportune time for leaders in the healthcare segment to take a look at their operating model and digitize it. From NJRA’s experience through the process of onboarding Salesforce and Skedulo, I’d recommend the following approaches:

  1. Solve the “90% problem” first: At NJRA, we were cautious to not over-engineer. Rather, we identified the part that contributed to most of our problems (mobile workforce management) and began with addressing that. We took the learnings from this experience and added more business cases, like integration with invoicing systems, later.
  2. Outpace competition with sophisticated technology: Surprisingly, even the big players seem to use rudimentary manual methods. Using sophisticated technologies provides a competitive edge, helps operate at incredible efficiencies, and keeps customers happy.
  3. Gain better data insight: The ability to understand various data collection points, connect different kinds of data, and see the big picture can be a crucial advantage. For example, when we needed to know how often our therapists are at a given facility at any given time, we could pull that data quickly and easily to find solutions.

Make caregivers happier and more productive: With automation, caregivers in the field no longer have to deal with paper, can communicate better with admins, make patient visits faster, and be more productive.

What’s Next for Mobile Healthcare Tech?

As patient demographics change and customer expectations skyrocket, having systems in place to tackle these challenges is absolutely essential. A system like Skedulo that can integrate with your data and deliver patient-centric scheduling is central to not only surviving, but thriving in this evolving market.

Interested in seeing how intelligent healthcare scheduling can benefit your organization? Request a Skedulo demo today!

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