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Bulky laptops give way to smart phones
Ease of use increases popularity
Increased efficiency is the name of the game for home health agencies as regulatory and financial changes occur in the next few years as part of health care reform. One way to improve efficiency is to make sure your field staff members have the tools they need to perform their job in a cost-effective manner.
While point-of-care technology for documentation and communication has become more popular over the years, most people think of laptop computers as the technology of choice. "I recommend personal data devices or smart phones," says Tom Maxwell, chief operating officer of Homecare Homebase, a home care software development company in Dallas. More of his home care clients are choosing smart phones over laptops, because they are versatile, easy to carry, and simple to use, he says.
"Most people are familiar with the use of cell phones, so learning to use a smart phone requires less education than learning to use a laptop," explains Maxwell. A smart phone can be easily carried in a pocket, which frees up the nurse's hands to carry other supplies or materials, and it is easier to clean than a laptop, he points out. Many of his clients also make the smart phones available to home health aides as well as nurses, which improves record keeping and communication among aides and other members of the care team, he adds.
"Transferring information is also easier from a smart phone," says Maxwell. "A smart phone can store data while the nurse or aide is making notes, then forward the data after each visit in about 2 minutes," he says. This compares to an average of 30-minute data transfer when laptops are used, and synchronized at the end of each day, he adds. "The ability to quickly synchronize and send data after each visit not only saves time for the nurse or aide, but also speeds up the billing process," he says.
Because the back-office staff are getting information throughout the day, billing doesn't get delayed, says Maxwell. "Most of my clients who have switched to smart phones are sending their RAPs [Request for Anticipated Payment] within two days of admitting a patient," he says. Because many home health agencies don't provide laptops for aides, a smart phone enables the aide to avoid office visits to pick up schedules or submit paperwork, points out Maxwell. "Smart phones offer home health agencies a viable, cost-effective alternative to laptops."
Tom Maxwell, Chief Operating Officer, Homecare Homebase, 6688 North Central Expressway, Suite 1300, Dallas, TX 75206. Telephone: (214) 239-6700 or (866) 535-4242. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.