Living and working in a connected world means striving for interconnectivity – a driving force in modern health care. Teams everywhere are striving to break down silos between institutions, departments, insurers, payers, vendors and to deliver care that is as harmonized as possible.
Connected to the broad pool of health care usage is home care, a business that is all about the well-being of clients. Coordinated care is delivered when each client’s entire caregiving team works in unison, using the same up-to-date information to glean what that person needs and when, both in managing conditions and living a good quality of life.
The key to doing so is for technological integrations to erase silos and, in turn, ensure a free flow of communications and care plan management between all providers. Such quick access and efficient exchange of data boosts the quality and delivery of care to clients for whom home care is a prime service.
At the same time, home care agencies can look inward and break down internal silos that persist. From scheduling and coordination to billing and payroll, it has long been easy to get lost in the day-to-day minutiae of the departments that keep an agency humming along. Key here again is technological integration – developing a full suite of tools that work in sync, including partner applications.
This guide explores how care organizations can integrate their software with various technology solutions and partners to produce an open flow between data sources. These integrations bring huge new benefits to all those who work to make agencies tick and bring an optimal experience for clients.
In an interconnected world, we have phones and tablets onto which we can download a galaxy of apps – made by all sorts of companies, that all work, seconds later. This same idea is driving the business of home care right now.
Step into this ecosystem
An interconnected world requires what’s known as an “ecosystem” of care – specifically when it comes to leveraging “APIs” within home care.
APIs (application programming interfaces) promote interoperability across an organization. They are like bridges that connect roads across rivers. Without the bridges, the roads go nowhere. But when they connect – like when different software is connected through APIs – traffic (like information) flows freely.
Through APIs, agencies can tap that ecosystem of care, which connects everything from enterprise resource planning, human resource management systems and scheduling to remote patient monitoring, mobile apps, electronic health records, finance… the links are endless when the technology is built with flexibility in mind.
All departments in an agency don’t require all the possible data available, of course, so a tailored ecosystem can meet their specific information needs. This is particularly relevant for large health systems and organizations that may currently be trying to leverage a single software system company-wide.
For example, a hospital may have a home care or home infusion arm – yet what the home infusion team needs to access isn’t always the same as say, emergency department staff. A tailored, interoperable software solution can connect to both the overall hospital system and a secondary solution. It can go even deeper too, narrowing down to specific roles within a department that may need to leverage highly specific functionality.
In spring 2018, we released our own such ecosystem: the AlayaSphere. Simply put, it’s like a marketplace where agencies can pick and choose from our list of partners and web-based tools that they need. And it all syncs with our cloud-based platform.
To explore just how integrations can benefit an agency, let’s take a dive into the specific areas of operation to see what an ecosystem like AlayaSphere can do.
What’s possible in a home care technology ecosystem: where agencies can benefit most
Tying new business directly into the software system bears immediate dividends. Managing a client’s information, on-boarding them, and following through on an individualized care plan is clearly a multi-pronged process but if referral technology is built right in to an agency’s back-end, this becomes vastly more efficient.
Some organizations haven’t dislodged themselves from paper operations, and referrals come through via fax. Others may have an intake process that doesn’t connect directly to an electronic referral system. This creates extra administrative work in duplicating information – which also risks errors. What’s more is that stats show that 60% of referral sources want their home care providers to accept e-referrals.
Then comes the integration: having a robust e-referral program built into a full tech platform is a prime way to respond quickly and engage new clients, update services and client records directly from the source, streamline care coordination, and implement automated updates and upgrades.
In 2015, AlayaCare integrated with an Ontario-based “Client Health and Related Information System” (or CHRIS for short) that was built by government-run Community Care Access Centres. This e-referral functionality gives a clear window into patient assessments and care planning, and enables agencies to receive service updates, referrals and important client records straight from the source. A few years later we welcomed into the AlayaSphere CareDove, a leading client intake and e-referral management platform - you can learn more about this partnership here.
Possessing the technology to make care transitions fast and fluid will show a referral source that an agency is keeping up with the shifting home health landscape. And a bonus tip for this integration: it gives an agency the data to easily study referral patterns over time, and identify areas to address if new clients are trending downward.
In the competitive pursuit for top talent, ensuring that care workers have the best possible experience on the job can go a long way when it comes to recruitment and retention. With demanding schedules being a firm reality given the unprecedented growth rate for home care, quality of life has become a major factor for caregivers looking to minimize stress in an already challenging work environment.
While quality of life involves many factors, optimized schedules that minimize travel time and ensure consistent hours can be a significant help. Keeping the lines of communication open to ongoing feedback is also key for both staff and clients, and Home Care Pulse, one of the newest members of the AlayaSphere, is a key tool to do just that.
Through this integration and by pulling data from AlayaCare, agencies can seamlessly distribute electronic surveys to their customers through Home Care Pulse, which will help find their blind spots, catching minor issues before they become major ones. Each month, a sample of clients and caregivers are surveyed for detailed feedback and unbiased satisfaction scores. Then, the agency receives detailed reports that illuminate which areas are doing well and those that need attention. This ultimately keeps staff and clients happy and positions an agency for long-term growth.
Integrated tools like this give agencies a leg up on offering an optimal work life for caregivers. Be sure to read our guide on the caregiver experience for more insights on the importance of attending to the needs of employees.
No agency needs an introduction to the importance of effective scheduling. It’s a key variable to success, not just in terms of caregiver satisfaction but in eliminating operational inefficiencies. Technology can eliminate time consuming paper-based work, allowing for a greater volume of work to be processed with increased accuracy in fewer hours.
Today’s market offers next-level scheduling solutions. With enhancements such as AlayaCare’s integration with the Here Maps API, the scheduling and coordination experience is elevated with mapping and geo-fencing – the latter of which uses GPS to create a virtual geographic boundary, triggering an alert if a care worker enters or leaves a particular area.
The data from this location information in turn helps build better experiences for caregivers based on real-time mapping and traffic data. AlayaCare's main dashboard also features an embedded map that gives schedulers and coordinators visibility into all clocked-in visits occurring in the field.
Electronic health records (EHRs) are vital to an agency’s ability to be a key part of the ecosystem of coordinated care. Those that integrate these essential data points into their systems will be able to provide the best possible care for their clients – and in turn, improve outcomes.
With the rise of artificial intelligence, there is no shortage of tools available on the market that can channel EHRs. The home care industry has a greater ability than ever before to gather accurate, updated client health data that can be used to make informed decisions, keeping clients safe and out of hospitals or clinics. (AlayaCare ensured that this ability was built right into the module with our clinical documentation solution.)
It’s also important that care providers from one institution to the next speak a common language, to foster consistently high-quality care. One such way is ensuring that interRAI assessments are embedded in an agency’s platform. It’s of considerable value to have portable patient data information that can be accessed securely across various care environments, so any issues can be identified and managed as quickly as possible.
An agency’s caregivers are at the front line of care and are best served through mobile technology that ensures they can spend as much direct time as possible with clients. (Without a mobile app, this role can look quite different.)
Any modern technology platform should be equipped with mobile capabilities, but also create an environment for complementary software integrations. For instance, AlayaCare enriches our mobile app experience with the Twilio cloud platform. Through this integration, agencies can choose to boost their mobile (and web) applications with added messaging, voice and video.
Bolstering the mobile experience offers limitless potential. Take education and training, for example. AlayaCare partnered and integrated with Nevvon, whose mobile in-service training platform helps caregivers stay compliant, reduce margins, avoid inefficiencies, and deliver better client care.
Approving visits has long been an administrative burden on agencies. That has come to a particular head in the U.S. with Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) now a legislated priority taking effect in January 2020.
AlayaCare and other software platforms are built to be EVV-compliant, though things can change in our growing industry. For instance, some states have entered the fray and require agencies within their borders to use a state-mandated EVV provider. Agencies may then need APIs and integrations that meet such requirements, and should look for options that can be easily integrated into their existing software platform.
Integrations mean that no agency has to turn its operations upside down to meet evolving rules from payers. They can simply choose the best option that fits with their business needs, add it to the rotation, and advance from there.
Accounting can be one of the most tedious, stressful and time-consuming processes in any organization, with countless hours spent every year on billing, payroll, taxes and other financial tasks. Given often strict requirements facing home care agencies – especially when Medicaid is involved – along with the ongoing reality of audits, it’s important that finances are managed with precision.
AlayaCare’s integrations with platforms such as AIRDOCS, Waystar and Even provide important tools to simplify customer communication, expedite billing – and even and promote financial wellness among employees – another key retention tool.
AIRDOCS, for example, is a multi-channel, next-generation Software as a Service (SaaS) platform to help companies simplify and expedite the design, creation and delivery of all customer communications, including invoices.
Waystar is beneficial for any agency dealing with claims management and Medicaid billings. An AlayaCare partner since 2018, this top medical billing clearinghouse offers a turnkey solution to connect care providers, insurers and other payers. In fact, our integration with Waystar is deeper than any other home care software provider and is the only software to date that has harmonized with Waystar on an individual visit-by-visit basis. The results: top revenue cycle management, seamless transactions, and maximum reimbursement.
Even is one of our newest integrations, promoting the financial wellness of agency staff. With more than half of Americans living paycheque to paycheque – and home care workers being among the lowest paid in the country – anything employers can do to help their valued staff members pay down debt, save money, and make ends meet can go a long way towards building loyalty and trust as an employer of choice. Not to mention being a good corporate citizen.
Technology that’s tracking everything from client satisfaction and caregiver schedules to timeliness of billing and staffing forecasts also affords a rich output of data that can be used to improve business processes, make informed decisions and reduce costs.
Software that offers powerful analytics capabilities can turn multi-source data points into rich reports that can be customized by department to provide valuable insights across the continuum of care. AlayaCare’s integration with Pentaho – a leading business intelligence platform – allows agencies to collect, store and manage health data with a flexible solution that integrates clinical, patient, financial and operational systems. Meanwhile, its metrics can be analyzed and actioned quickly, either within AlayaCare’s system or in any agency’s custom reporting system.
In the end, these are but eight of the more common and clear examples of how agencies can leverage integrations and technology partners to bolster the organization and deliver new value to clients and staff.
The future of home care relies on the use and exchange of data. Ensuring that data is not siloed but instead flowing freely inside and beyond an agency will be paramount to evolving with the times. An ecosystem of care begins with an ecosystem of software, working in unison.
Are you in need of a solution that supports your current workflows, but also allows you to offer additional services?
AlayaCare's flexible, cloud-based home and community care software is equipped with APIs and the ability to support third party integrations so you can maintain a real-time, two-way synchronization with internal tools, external payers and referral sources.
Request a demo today and see how AlayaCare and our partners can support your custom workflows today.
"A deal breaker for me when selecting a platform was whether they had a mobile aspect. It’s extremely important to be able to access information remotely and give our care workers this feature. Live reporting allows us to be as efficient and accurate as possible."
Sebastian Ignacio Arasanz Oakville Senior Citizens Residence (OSCR)
"AlayaCare’s real-time access to information at any time permits Access Healthcare’s caregivers to understand a client’s complete history before arriving for a scheduled visit. This vastly accelerates their ability to provide care, as clients don’t have to keep repeating their story to various field workers, and workers don’t have to use up valuable time in a client’s home by rifling through paper notes. All relevant information can be entered and viewed in real-time through a mobile device."
Tammy Hehn Access Healthcare Services Inc.