Providing Innovative Software Solutions

Homecare Homebase

The history of home health and hospice care in the United States dates back to the 1880s. The industry has come a long way since then, when mountains of paper were necessary for home healthcare plans. Technology to support this industry continues to rapidly evolve, and it’s a good thing, since growth in this sector of healthcare demands it.

In fact, in the last century alone, the home healthcare industry has grown to include over 12 million Americans. That represents annual revenue of $66 billion across 29,000 home healthcare agencies. And the need for home health and hospice care for those aged 85 and older is expected to triple in the next forty years.

Seniors want to retain their independence and so they increasingly choose to stay in their own homes, a place of familiarity and comfort; there is room for home healthcare agencies to make a difference. Yet as with most growth opportunities, the sector has its attendant challenges. Homecare Homebase is prepared, with its own brand of innovation and technological tools to meet those challenges.

Homecare Homebase, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, with an additional office in Kentucky, was established in 2001, as a spin-off of founder and CEO, April Anthony’s, homecare provider business Encompass Home Health. She explains that in order to address the needs of her growing homecare business, she had to develop technological solutions to address major concerns. As the technology spend grew she decided it was time to establish Homecare Homebase as its own entity and begin to seek customers to help support the continued development of the software.

“I got into home healthcare from the finance side of things,” explains April. “By default I ended up in the technology because I needed something that would work to help me manage my business more successfully. As it turned out I wasn’t the only one with this need.” April relates that she still remains an equity partner in Encompass which has 4400 employees and generated $300 million in revenue last year. HCHB, with its 285 employees, generated $70 million. With over 2200 installed locations across the nation and 54,000 63,000users, Homecare Homebase provides integrated cloud-based software solutions to the post-acute care industry.

Homecare Homebase’s Software as a Service (SaaS) solution enables real time information exchange among field staff using hand held Android devices, and office staff and physicians using the web-based tool in the back office. This wireless solution aids in the operational, clinical and financial success of homecare and hospice agencies. It’s flexible, customizable and perhaps more importantly, user friendly, as April explains.

“Recognizing that there are so many clinical people out in the field that utilize our technology that really don’t have a strong technology background, we [knew we] would need to come up with a really simple user interface. So nurses and therapists can actually be trained to use our devices in about eight hours.” April goes on to explain that other healthcare industry software products can often take a couple of weeks in training. “We can do it in less than one day and have a long history of being able to orient people to the software very efficiently and get them out into the field using it.” Homecare Homebase ensures that all users are fully trained, knowledgeable, and prepared in all aspects of any of the software’s upgraded functionality so that they’re capable of using the software appropriately. “It’s not customized software but it’s configurable software,” adds April. “Each client can configure the solution in the way that best meets their needs and requirements for their particular agency.”

Working more efficiently and safely

Home healthcare providers need to consistently assess a patient’s status. Homecare Homebase software assessment tools ensure that all assessments are consistent and will alert the user to any discrepancies. “After completion of a patient assessment the software system will aid the user through selecting the appropriate clinical pathway to drive the balance of the care plan,” notes April. “It really provides a lot of tools that ensure quality documentation, consistent compliance with regulations, and it guides clinical best practice to ensure that we achieve consistent clinical and financial outcomes.”

April also explains cyber security is always a major concern and the area where the company invests a lot of time and effort to ensure each device is protected. “We have multiple layers of security,” she says. “We spend a lot of time making sure that we meet all of the standards related to privacy and HIPAA security standards.”

Unique and efficient, in its own way

April shares that what sets Homecare Homebase apart from the competition is the utilization of Android tablets for all field level documentation. “They’re very cost effective devices,” she says. “Our users can buy seven inch tablets for their nurses and therapists to use for as little as $99 a device; when you compare that to the cost of a laptop that’s a very favourable price point.”

She suggests that tablets, as opposed to laptops, are more practical for nurses who are constantly on the move and require a handy solution for documentation. Tablets are also less obtrusive during nurse-patient encounters. “The actual platform that we’ve built our android solution on is a key differentiator and it’s unique in the marketplace,” she adds.

Homecare Homebase operates on a workflow driven approach. “All interactions, whether at the patient care side or the back office, meet regulatory standards and all information is fed through the system in such a way that ensures the right information makes it to the right person, at the right time,” adds April. “[This] ensures a really consistent flow, creating both financial efficiencies as well as a compliant process.”

Resolving a complex issue

The Outcome and Assessment Information Set (OASIS) is a group of standardized data designed to comparatively measure patient outcomes, at various points in time, in the home healthcare industry. Outcome measures determine how home healthcare agencies can improve patient care.

In June 2013 the first draft of the revised OASIS data set, (OASIS-C1) was published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). In October 2014, OASIS- C1 will be implemented concurrently with ICD-10, the International Classification of Disease, tenth revision. The ICD-10 is a system of codes created by the World Health Organization that notes diseases, symptoms and external causes of injury from various medical records. And according to April, although the OASIS-C1 will be easily implemented from Homecare Homebases’s standpoint, the ICD-10 “is going to be a major challenge across all of healthcare.”

ICD-10 will increase the number of diagnosis codes that a healthcare worker will have to choose from to describe a patient’s issue by “almost 10 fold compared to the number of codes that are available in the ICD-9,” shares April. “It’s a very complex issue… If you haven’t really worked to make it an efficient process for the [healthcare worker], and make it as easy as possible, it can really be a drain on productivity.”

She explains, “We’ve been working very hard at Homecare Homebase to ensure that we create a user interface that makes that exponential growth in codes something that will be manageable for the 63,000 care givers and back office support personnel that use our software. At the moment, it’s one of the top things we’re focused on to ensure that it doesn’t create any challenges for our customers.”

Speaking about the future of mobile in the home healthcare industry, April points out that there are limitations to laptop based solutions and that mobile technology is quickly becoming the norm in the home care space. “It’s going to be virtually impossible not to have a mobile solution and really remain a viable provider,” she says.

Concluding, April notes that nationally, Homecare Homebase has about 17 percent of the home health market share and that, “We’d like to continue to make progress in that market penetration… we see more and more of the larger scale customers are embracing our solution. We want to be that provider of choice.”

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