In a dynamic, highly-regulated industry like healthcare, efficient scheduling is a competitive advantage and critical to facilitating organizational growth. But, as far too many organizations learn the hard way, not all scheduling tools are equipped to handle the complex scheduling needs of in-home healthcare.
Medical technology continues to advance at a staggering rate, but the administrative side has been slow to keep up. In fact, AMN Healthcare found that 43% of organizations still use paper-based tools or spreadsheets to schedule nurses. While these tools may work for a small group of colocated providers, it gets very complicated very fast with a larger group of remote workers.
That is why an increasing number of home health care companies are evaluating more sophisticated tools to support their scheduling and dispatch operations as well as the growth of their businesses.
Use the checklist below to evaluate in-home healthcare scheduling tools!
Checklist for Home Healthcare Scheduling Solutions
The key to staying ahead of the competition is delivering quality care more efficiently than ever before. An effective scheduling system for mobile healthcare employees:
- Is 100% secure and HIPAA-compliant
Security and compliance should be an out-of-the-box feature of your scheduling tool, especially in a heavily regulated field like healthcare. The software connectivity should have sound security protocols, and all patient data must be captured in a HIPAA-complaint way. The most effective healthcare scheduling tools use secure APIs to transfer details about insurance, payroll, medical care, and other information covered by HIPAA.As you evaluate scheduling software, ask for detailed information about security protocols and HIPAA compliance. If the vendor is not prepared to show HIPAA certification or proof of compliance, keep shopping.
- Assigns the best healthcare provider for the patient
There are few things as sensitive and intimate as inviting someone into your home to care for you. Leading in-home healthcare organizations recognize that patient-centric technology and processes are the key to providing high-quality care and winning patients’ trust.Your ideal scheduling solution should prioritize intelligent matching of patients and providers. Look for a tool that takes intelligent factors beyond available times into account:
- Patient relationships: patients may prefer to work with someone who has treated them in the past.
- Patient preferences: female patients may prefer a female provider (and vice versa).
- Business rules: certain types of appointments may require specialists or a different number of providers than usual.
- Employee certifications and skill sets: some services may require additional certifications or deep skills that make some employees uniquely qualified (or unqualified) to perform the work.
- Employee location and travel time: in situations where other constraints do not apply, send the provider closest to that location to reduce travel time.
- Gives mobile employees an easy way to view schedule changes in the field
Look for a scheduling system that leverages the mobile devices that are already ubiquitous in our lives today. A quality scheduling tool should offer a mobile app for an easy way to send and receive updates throughout the day. With mobile devices and technology, there is no reason to depend on paper schedules, phone calls or even email to keep teams of people up to date and coordinated.
- Gives providers access to important patient information
No patient wants to repeat information from the last appointment (or even worse, schedule a follow-up appointment because the provider was not prepared). Trust, rapport, and mutual understanding are key to the patient-provider relationship. To nurture this relationship, healthcare organizations should make sure their in-home providers are fully prepared for what they are walking into.Your healthcare scheduling system should offer seamless access to important appointment information, including patient history and necessary equipment.
- Handles time-sensitive schedules and recurring visits
Healthcare is often time-sensitive. Patients may need recurring care based on specific medical conditions, medication schedules, or other needs. Look for a scheduling system that makes it easy to plan around the time-sensitive needs of medical care. Can the tool accommodate recurring visits, unusual patterns for patient check-ins, and related scenarios?
- Collects patient data and syncs automatically
Overwhelming documentation requirements are the top source of frustration for home healthcare workers. Many caregivers are forced to spend more time writing things down than actually caring for patients. And some even have to manually enter the data into a database when they are done. But this is simply not necessary!Look for scheduling software that allows you to capture data from the field in real-time. With this capability, your providers can grab a signature, complete a form, or snap a photo, then upload it on the go. This way, your caregivers can get back to caring for patients, and your back office administrators can get to work processing data from the field.
- Manages full-time, part-time, and temporary contractors
Today’s healthcare workforce is more dynamic than ever, and your tools should support all types of work arrangements. Administrative teams should be able to manage full-time employees, part-time employees, and independent contractors from the same system. This capability is especially valuable for teams managing timesheets, payroll and billing when information about services provided is synced directly to the organization’s system of record.
- Manages data access in a way that reflects the needs of your workforce
As you evaluate scheduling software providers, ask about how different types of employees can access information. Do they need a certain status, role or access type to see critical information? Is there a way to lock down certain parts of the system based on employee type? Are all in-home providers able to access what they need, regardless of their status? Think critically about the different types of access to information your workforce needs and whether the tools you are evaluating can accommodate that.
- Keeps a record of provider credentials and skill sets
Healthcare organizations need a comprehensive, up-to-date view of their providers’ qualifications. When your certification or skill set records are out of date, you lose the ability to use that information to provide great care and easily satisfy compliance requirements.Look for a healthcare scheduling system that makes it easy to track and update provider details. The best scheduling tools let you create detailed provider profiles that include certifications, qualifications, skill sets, and other notes to help you make the right decisions about patient care.
- Gives the back office real-time insight into the field
As mobile caregivers are out visiting patients, back office administrators are most often in the dark about where caregivers are and where they are headed next. This can be frustrating when you need to make changes to the schedule or provide a status update to a patient who is waiting.With the right scheduling tool, you can connect mobile employees to the back office without any extra effort on the part of your workforce. As you review scheduling solutions, look for a tool that tells your back office when the provider checks in to the appointment, what services were provided, and when the appointment was completed. Sharing these data points through an automatic sync also enables management to create performance reports and forecast demand with improved accuracy.
- Works even without an internet connection
In-home healthcare providers work in many different environments every day. Especially for providers in rural service areas, software and mobile apps that can only work on a strong signal have limited usefulness.Make sure to screen solutions for offline access to the mobile app. The ideal healthcare scheduler has an “offline mode” that allows providers to get important patient info, even without a cell signal or reliable internal access.