As the homecare market changes rapidly it is becoming clear to many owners and administrators that their current pediatric emr software is inadequate, not responsive to their needs, or both. Choosing the right system for their needs can be difficult, especially for those that have not been keeping track with how much technology has changed recently. Below is a guide for anyone looking to evaluate homecare EMRs in 2020.
- Electronic Workflows and Point of Care
All pediatric EMR systems should offer a way to move away from paper. If any part of a solution forces the use of paper that should be considered a red flag. Of course having printable forms and screens is a helpful way to transition, but there should be a clear path forward to a paperless environment.
How your field staff complete their documentation can vary greatly, from logging into a website (which can cause connectivity problems), to completing a document on their desktop (which can cause HIPAA violations), to “offline mode” (which can impede real-time data collection and collaboration). The current trend is toward Mobile App documentation. This method combines the best of offline modes and web connectivity without the downsides. Under a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy companies can avoid costly devices, data plans, and IT personnel to manage a fleet of tablets or laptops.
- Medicare vs Homecare
Medicare Home Health companies have traditionally outnumbered non-Medicare by a wide margin. The current menu of pediatric EMR systems reflects this imbalance. Most software solutions cater to the Medicare space because “that’s where the money is.” For non-Medicare companies this creates two problems: 1. Their needs are not a priority, and 2. The system’s workflows, language, and general orientation does not fit their business.
There are several non-Medicare systems being offered, but almost all are built around attendant (unskilled) care. While some of these do a fantastic job of tracking schedules and communication, they come up short in their clinical, financial, and workflow management. The ideal combination would be a system based around Pediatric care because that population is similar to attendant in many ways, but requires intense modules to manage the complexity of care, multi-payer billing, and physician interactions.
Most legacy EMR systems have been around for a while, and have settled into a routine of basing changes on CMS guidelines. This works fairly well for Medicare Home Health companies, but less-so for other Homecare providers. As MCOs play a greater role in the referral and care management process and state Medicaid plans alter their policies to adapt to budget constraints it is imperative that a company’s software move quickly.
Software updates happen on a release schedule. Most software companies have a set timeline to develop, test, and enact changes. A typical Medicare release schedule may be quarterly or bi-annual. That simply won’t do in a rapidly changing Homecare environment. Look for systems that do smaller, more frequent releases, as these offer more opportunities for the kind of targeted changes that can have a big impact on your business.
When you think of software companies you tend to imagine Bill Gates or someone like him starting the company based on a vision of the technology. The reality is that as tech has become more accessible it has to some extent become commoditized. If the technology playing field is equal, then the true separator is creativity and experience. The top software systems in the Homecare marketplace are now being run by people who come from the Homecare industry because they are able to find talented engineers to make their vision of a better way forward a reality.
Ask companies if their founders and leaders came from the tech space or if they ran a Homecare business.
- Measuring Outcomes
Homecare payers are following Medicare in one way: value-based purchasing. All systems should allow you to track hospitalizations, infections, and grievances, as those are typically mandated by states.
For companies that want to be ahead of the curve the key will be capturing data that shows true efficacy. MCOs will be pressured to narrow their networks and cut reimbursement, so data will be the only defense for companies with less than dominant market share. Ask yourself what keeps your patients from going to the hospital, backsliding with respect to goals, or being generally unsatisfied with their service or care. Your pediatric EMR system should help you track, aggregate, synthesize, and present the data in a way that is actionable for managers and persuasive to audiences outside the company.
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