If there’s one thing the pandemic has made abundantly clear, it’s that we can never go back to the way things were. For hospice and home health providers, the last two years have seen staff pushed to the brink — and beyond — as they coped with massive stress, minimal resources, and continually-moving restrictions.
Technology offers a way for organizations to help bridge the gap between past operations and present challenges, so long as it’s adopted and implemented effectively. In her recent webinar, Finding Gold in Change — Home Health Hospice Challenges Re-Imagined, Dr. Joy Berger explores three ways for hospice and home health providers to effectively navigate this next, new normal.
1) Name and Claim Key Changes
Hospice staff faced significant stressors during the pandemic. With those in care more susceptible to serious COVID outcomes, caregivers endured suffering, death, and loss compounded by a sense of isolation and emotional overload.1 Paired with a need to “get things done,” often using remote and mobile technologies in their infancy led to an unsurprising result: more staff making the choice to leave.
As noted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the gap between new healthcare openings and hires doubled from December 2020 to November 2021.2 Hospices can’t ignore this new reality: Instead, they must name and claim challenges around retention, recruitment, and the use of technology to improve patient care.
2) Choose and Use the Right Technology Tools
Technology can help hospice and home health organizations streamline operations and empower staff to deliver patient-centric care. But simply implementing technology tools isn’t enough to address hospice challenges; if solutions are cumbersome to integrate and difficult to operate, they’ll have the opposite effect intended.
To assess the effectiveness of these tools, Dr. Berger offers a simple checklist. Does your technology:
- Make daily work easier or harder?
- Adapt to different devices?
- Work on- and offline?
- Help coordinate team tasks and scheduling?
- Easily communicate interdisciplinarity group (IDG) information?
- Ensure operational compliance?
It’s also worth asking staff for their perspective on new technology solutions. Even if tools check all the boxes, they won’t see adoption if staff aren’t sold on their functionality.
3) Live and Give “Gold”
Home health and hospice staff have a passion for compassion and patient-centric care. While the pandemic may have buried this caregiving gold deeper beneath the surface as healthcare professionals struggled to survive in unprecedented times, the right approach to technology integration and adoption can help staff shine again.
In practice, living and giving gold means finding ways to integrate employees’ core values with technological advances. In other words, new solutions should facilitate rather than frustrate staff efforts by making it easier for them to connect with patients, complete key tasks, and ensure compliance.
Cultivating Care Connections
To encourage retention and improve recruitment, it’s critical to reconnect caregivers will their calling. This starts with the recognition that hospice and home health have fundamentally changed, and that technology is now a key component of effective care. Finding gold in this change means adopting solutions that cultivate caregivers’ desire for compassion by making tasks less complex, empowering staff coordination, and giving them more time to connect with patients.
Finding Gold in Change: Home Health and Hospice Challenges Re-Imagined
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “COVID-19 Risks and Vaccine Information for Older Adults,” August 2, 2021.
2 The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Quits Levels and Rates by Industry and Region, Seasonally Adjusted,” March 10, 2022.