If you’re a contract therapy company serving the home health market, then you most likely know just how challenging it can be to schedule therapy for homebound patients. Unlike other care settings—such as an outpatient clinics or skilled nursing—home health is entirely “virtual” in that the patient is not located in the client’s facility, but rather in the patient’s home.
As a result, you need to closely coordinate schedules with the home health agency to ensure efficient and timely care from therapists, nurses, and other clinicians. If you aren’t completely in lockstep with what the agency is doing—or vice versa—then scheduling can become a real management issue and affect your relationship with the agency.
Just imagine, your therapist drives 45 minutes to see a patient, only to find that a nurse sent by the home health agency is already there. With a tight schedule and visits lined up back-to-back, the therapist has to leave.
Needless to say, that’s wasted time driving and one very frustrated therapist! Not only does the visit have to be rescheduled, which prolongs patient care, you’re dealing with additional unbillable time on the clock—time that should have been precisely managed in order to ensure optimal reimbursement and revenue.
Perhaps if this only happened once, it wouldn’t be a problem. But the reality is that if there isn’t a way to share your therapists’ schedules with the home health agency—to allow for more coordinated care—the issue will likely persist.
Managing therapists across business lines is another challenge. With the booming home health sector, in-home care is a great opportunity to diversify and grow your therapy business. However, to efficiently and cost-effectively scale resources, you’re likely drawing from the same pool of therapists serving your SNF and/or outpatient therapy clients.
This adds another layer of complexity that can be difficult to manage if each business line relies on its own scheduling software. Staff are forced to log in and out of different systems and create manual workarounds to get the job done. This approach is not only inefficient for everyone involved, it opens the door to errors, miscommunication and missed opportunities.
Solving Scheduling Snafus
Solving these scheduling snafus comes down to having technology that can support more transparent, coordinated care. With increased pressure from the changing payment landscape and regulations that will your affect your business well into the future—including PDPM and PDGM—you need tools that can help you make smarter decisions and efficiently manage therapy resources.
When looking for home health therapy software, it’s important to consider all of your scheduling requirements. Here are a few questions to ask when evaluating a home health therapy solution:
– How can I get total control over my therapists’ schedules? Centralized visibility will give you that control, but it requires enterprise-ready capabilities. You should be able to manage your therapists’ time across multiple home health agencies and other SNF and outpatient therapy care settings. If the software doesn’t provide that for you, then you’ll have to somehow manage it via spreadsheets and paper—find out what your options are.
– Can I ensure compliance with physician orders? Look for software that provides alerts and guardrails to ensure that you’re matching the right therapist/assistant and discipline with the right patient, and that you don’t over-book or under-book visits.
– Can my home health agencies see the therapists’ schedules? Shared views into the schedule is key to eliminating errors and miscommunication. Your home health agency clients should be able to view therapists’ schedules and add appointments based on their own nursing schedule.
– Can I easily communicate with my home health agencies? Scheduling changes happen. The question is how well you respond to them. The software should allow you to update individual therapists or the entire care team as needed via secure messaging and other real-time notifications. There should never be a question about what’s happening with a patient visit.
Of course, scheduling is just one component of a home health therapy solution. Other areas such as point-of-care documentation and billing also need to be in place to ensure success. But scheduling remains one of the more logistically challenging aspects of providing home health care—so be sure the solution you’re using can support your needs today and scale with your growing business.