Healthcare today is more consumer-focused than ever. Technological advancements are rocketing healthcare into the future. Protocols and recommendations change—what feels like—by the day. But whether a patient enters the continuum of care through preventative care or acute care, the patient journey needs to be smooth, continuous, and top-notch. That’s a tall order, which is why it’s important to use the right tools to support healthcare workers and patients.
What Is the Continuum of Care?
The continuum of care is how healthcare providers follow patients through the entire system of care, depending on the patient’s needs and the severity of the condition: preventative, acute care, recovery, management, etc. are all points along the continuum of care.
The continuum of care has evolved. There are more non-acute care settings coming into play, emphasizing the shift from inpatient to outpatient care—an area that is expecting 15% growth from 2019 to 2029. This is due in part to medical advancements, healthcare IoT, higher consumer cost, an increasing population to serve, and other factors.
With these changes, healthcare providers must become more mobile, yet still accessible to a plethora of patients while providing high-quality care. That’s where mobile workforce management can help.
Let’s follow a patient through the continuum of care and see how mobile workforce management supports the patient journey.
How Mobile Workforce Management Can Support the Continuum of Care
Our fictitious patient for this continuum of care journey is Jane. She’s been in good health, overall, and has remained physically active in her senior years. But during a walk one day, she takes a hard fall. Jane doesn’t want anyone to call an ambulance, but because of her intense hip pain, she accepts a neighbor’s offer to take her to the emergency department to get checked.
The ambulatory care setting includes emergency departments, urgent care clinics, surgery centers, and specialty clinics. In our continuum of care example, Jane enters the ambulatory care setting through the emergency department.
When mobile workforce management is used in the ambulatory setting, it benefits patients in a couple distinct ways:
- Reduced wait time. Jane arrives at the emergency department and is checked in. Thanks to the hospital using a mobile workforce management platform, Jane is called from the waiting room to an exam room soon after arriving.
When mobile workforce management is integrated with EHR software, scheduling is more efficient and more data-driven. A strong mobile workforce management platform helps the organization maximize resources—full-time, part-time, per diem, and contract workers are all used to their maximum ability and managed in one simple system. Furthermore, in ambulatory settings, such as specialty clinics, the platform reduces wait times through the use of client-facing booking grids.
- Shorter appointment length. The optimized scheduling system in place behind the scenes means Jane spends less time waiting to be seen by a healthcare provider once she’s in the room. Jane’s emergency department nurse takes notes, completes tasks, and uploads assessments and photos in a secure app as the physician examines Jane and walks through treatment options. This keeps Jane from having to wait for anyone to fill out paper forms with next steps.
Unfortunately, Jane’s hip is badly broken, requiring a hip replacement. The physician admits her to the hospital for surgery. This brings Jane to another setting in the continuum of care.
Providers, nurses and caregivers
This setting includes emergency departments, anesthesiology, hospital medicine, and acute care surgery. After Jane’s successful acute care surgery for the hip replacement, she has to be hospitalized for a short amount of time to be monitored and start recovering.
Thankfully, our fictitious patient again benefits during her patient journey because the hospital uses a mobile workforce management platform.
- Reduced need to repeat information. Jane doesn’t have to repeat the same information that she told the nurse on the previous work shift (or to remind the same nurse what was discussed yesterday). The nurses, physicians, CNAs, etc., don’t have to waste time searching for data in multiple software systems because the appointment notes and patient data are integrated in one secure mobile app. The simple user interface and custom forms support fast and easy mobile charting.
- Increased quality of care. Healthcare providers—and caregivers for some hospital-based settings—can spend more time with patients because of more efficient scheduling and less time spent on administrative work. The easy, secure, real-time access to patient data means a more informed provider, translating to Jane receiving better overall care.
Jane’s recovery progresses well, so she is moved to outpatient care, which is becoming a more common setting for joint replacement recovery to occur. She goes to a skilled nursing facility where she will continue to recover and receive physical therapy and help with becoming mobile again. This brings her to the post-acute care setting in the continuum of care.
Skilled nursing facilities, long-term acute care, nursing homes, rehab, assisted living facilities, and behavioral health centers comprise the post-acute care setting. Jane arrives at the skilled nursing facility, where she’ll stay for a few days.
While Jane is in the post-acute care setting, she continues to receive benefits from mobile workforce management during her patient journey:
- More holistic follow-up care. With remote patient monitoring and other telehealth technologies, Jane receives follow-up care that is more holistic and efficient in nature. Mobile workforce management helps take advantage of new, innovative ways to deliver care—with an easier, more intelligent way to schedule appointments and communicate among providers, it’s easier to introduce and measure these initiatives. Furthermore, providers can consult with a specialist, if needed, with the use of telehealth and remote patient monitoring.
- More consistent care. Jane’s care is more consistent here than at post-acute care facilities that don’t leverage mobile workforce management. For one, this is due to all of Jane’s healthcare providers being on the same page—from the nurses to physical therapists to all other providers involved in her care—thanks to real-time access to up-to-date patient details and next steps.
Mobile workforce management also allows the provider to schedule Jane with the same physical therapist or nurse every time they are on duty, improving the consistency and quality of Jane’s care. This improves Jane’s experience and her perception of the healthcare provider, and it can even speed up her recovery.
Jane has healed well at the skilled nursing facility and does not need this level of intense care anymore; however, she’s still recovering and needs some assistance at times. So, her healthcare providers have decided to move her through the continuum of care to the next setting of home health services.
Home health services
Skilled medical care and specialty care delivered in a patient’s home both fall under the home health services setting. Our patient, Jane, returns home to finish her recovery from hip replacement surgery, and a home health nurse and physical therapist will come several times a week until recovery is complete.
In the home health services setting, mobile workforce management can offer better patient-provider matching and allow for more reliable follow-up visits.
- Better fit between healthcare providers and patients. The right healthcare provider or mobile caregiver is easily assigned, every time, with a mobile workforce management system. The platform accounts for the right qualifications, experience, and training for the patient’s needs, helping the homecare scheduler easily match the right provider to Jane’s situation. For Jane, this means that she won’t have to lose time in her recovery while waiting weeks or longer for home health services to start.
- More reliable, predictable follow-up schedules. A mobile workforce management system provides predictability and data on the provider side, which leads to more predictability and trust on Jane’s side as the patient. [From outline: Patients receive a specific appointment time, rather than an “arrival window” (thanks to dynamic scheduling ability from mobile workforce management).] Because the providers are more supported and have a real-time, unified scheduling tool, mobile workers are less likely to miss appointments.
The better communication in a mobile workforce management platform also allows teams to make contingency plans and work through confusing situations in real-time, before it even involves the patient. If unexpected circumstances arise and the visit must be rescheduled, Jane can be notified well in advance as she completes her recovery at home.
Streamlining the Continuum of Care
The healthcare industry is continually changing, and more patients are moving through the continuum of care in the outpatient or home setting than ever before. With the help of a mobile workforce management system, the continuum of care is a more efficient, streamlined, and quality-focused experience for patients, no matter the healthcare setting.
Skedulo’s mobile workforce management platform is built for home and mobile healthcare, with a unique focus on improving the patient journey. To learn more about how Skedulo can benefit your patients through the continuum of care, book a demo today.