The American nation is aging. The US Census Bureau reports that by 2034, for the first time in history, adults over 65 will outnumber children aged 18 and younger. Moreover, many older individuals live with four or more chronic conditions and limitations, requiring constant or periodic in-home care. Combined with the effects of the pandemic, these factors are putting pressure on healthcare providers to improve methods of automation in home-based care.
Healthcare facilities and home healthcare agencies are looking for ways to manage personnel shortages, reduce costs, and provide better service to their patients. Developing home health automation solutions is a path that many medical businesses are choosing to reach those goals. And that’s something we know a thing or two about at Demigos.
Demigos has been developing agetech products and driving innovation in eldercare for over seven years. Our projects include successfully connecting elderly citizens with skilled caregivers, creating an IoT wearable for seniors, and many more.
In this piece, we’ll tell you about automation systems in home healthcare, their key features and benefits, and the challenges of developing such solutions. So, let’s get started.
What is home healthcare automation software?
Hospitals are increasingly turning to home healthcare for elderly patients instead of referring them to assisted living facilities. While patients and medical staff consider this trend positive, providers and agencies struggle to ensure the continuous availability of their services at a distance. Homebound patients need to receive quality care despite the fact that clinicians don’t have round-the-clock physical access to them. That’s where home health automation systems come in.
Simply put, a home health automation system is a type of medical software that automates the delivery of care to patients within the comfort of their own homes. Using this software, skilled medical professionals like nurses, aides, assistants, and physical or occupational therapists can deliver the same standard of medical care in-home as they would in an in-patient scenario.
If prescribed by a doctor, the costs of home health care are covered by one of these government programs: Medicare, Medicaid, PACE (Programs of All-Inclusive Care for Elderly), or VA (Veteran Assistance) healthcare. In order to qualify, the patient has to be homebound, meaning unable to safely get to the doctor’s office.
As a rule, home healthcare automation software covers the processes related to service coordination (e.g., scheduling, communication, documentation), patient care management, and billing. Let’s talk about this in more detail.
Key features of home health automation systems
With specialized software, many routine manual tasks can be automated, freeing up caregivers’ resources, so they can better focus on the patients’ needs. When you decide to build a home health automation system, make sure it includes the critical functions listed below.
Audio and video communication
Being able to communicate with clinicians directly and securely makes a lot of sense for patients who have chosen an in-home option. Knowing that they and their families can talk to a doctor whenever something goes wrong gives them peace of mind. It also encourages them to consult with a doctor when needed instead of postponing it till the next hospital visit. That’s why a modern custom home health automation solution must enable audio calls, videoconferencing, and messaging with caregivers.
When developing a teleconferencing tool, it’s important to make it HIPAA compliant. Although home health services are provided outside of healthcare facilities, patients and clinicians use home health software to share sensitive health-related information. So you must ensure the appropriate level of protection for this data.
Scheduling online and offline patient visits, managing shifts, and balancing work hours — these functions are essential for any home health software. They allow hospitals and home healthcare agencies to streamline workflows, optimize caregiving duties, and address patients’ requests much faster.
Also, if you add tech like artificial intelligence and machine learning, you can get predictive analysis to better plan your facility’s resources and workforce for the highs and lows of the season.
Medical staff should not spend their time on bills, insurance claims, or following up on deductible payments. Instead, they should focus on providing quality care to patients. Home health automation software can automate the processing of financial data, superseding all manual labor with streamlined workflows. This includes claims management, payment processing, and financial reporting.
Enhancing your healthcare facility’s financial workflows with the power of big data is another great option. It can help you analyze your cashflow, generate smarter reports, and be a part of your strategy for overcoming revenue challenges in healthcare.
Remote monitoring of vitals
Today’s healthcare market is full of medical IoT devices like insulin pumps, wearable defibrillators, and ingestible sensors that offer real-time health monitoring, which homebound patients can benefit from. So make sure your home health automation software enables IoT connectivity and has all the necessary processing and analysis features.
In particular, the software should be able to automatically ingest data from on-body sensors, providing clinicians with comprehensive updates and suggestions. It should also trigger alerts in emergency situations like a sudden spike in blood pressure, a fall, or an insulin shock.
Unfortunately, older patients are often notorious for not taking their medication due to memory or attention issues. To help them adhere to their treatment plans, you can offer a mobile app that will send notifications with information on what medication to take and when.
By connecting this app with your web home health platform, you can achieve end-to-end automation of the process and ensure that patients take the right meds at the right time, even when they’re no longer in a hospital.
Smart home controls
Patients that have limited mobility or suffer from mental illnesses can benefit from smart home remote controls connected to home health software. This way, an authorized employee can remotely control doors and lighting, change thermostat settings, and so on — either from the office or in a mobile app. With such a platform solution, a nurse visiting a disabled person can open the door with a single tap on their phone.
As we conclude this section, there’s another component of automated in-home care solutions we should mention. It’s integration with EMR/EHR systems. A healthcare facility can’t operate effectively without robust access to patient history. Not only that, you need a reliable flow of data, from a patient’s initial entry to making a diagnosis and creating and then following a treatment plan. So, seamless integration with electronic health and medical record systems is a must-have for a home health solution.
Now that we’ve covered the most useful home health automation software features, let’s look at things from a slightly different angle. How can your medical business benefit from developing a home health automation solution?
Benefits of home health automation solutions
When most of the pencil-pushing is out of the way, clinicians, assisted by applications, can focus on improving the quality of service for home-based patients. The same goes for other medical staff, whose burden will be eased by the software. Below are some of the most notable advantages automation technology can bring to home health.
Read also: Home health trends to follow.
Improved overall quality of care
Achieving better outcomes for patients is a primary reason to develop home health automation software. For example, with a well-designed platform that includes a mobile application, doctors can easily manage appointments and set automatic medication reminders for patients. Meanwhile, in-app messaging, plus audio and video calls for routine checks and follow-ups allow clinicians to monitor patients’ conditions after they leave the hospital.
And if your solution supports IoT sensors, you’ll also be able to set up emergency alerts in case your patient’s blood pressure goes up, or they don’t move for a while.
Using automation systems in home healthcare can help your organization respond more quickly and make better-informed decisions, leading to better patient outcomes.
Streamlined financial operations
Home health automation software will help you automate invoicing, billing, and submitting claims for your in-home patients. It will help you get payments processed faster, increasing your facility’s turnover.
Home health automation solutions also make patients’ lives easier by simplifying all financial processes and making information more transparent. For example, you can set in-app reminders for patients in order to collect deductibles more efficiently. In general, a well-built home health automation solution can reinvigorate your entire revenue cycle.
Reduced personnel expenses
Modern healthcare software can collect data, schedule appointments, send reminders, and even provide some mental health assistance. Skilled personnel only have to intervene when there’s a need for their professional expertise or decisions, which is more optimal use of their time.
A video conferencing feature can also help to reduce the number of work hours doctors and nurses spend on face-to-face visits. This leads to a reduction in personnel expenses, which naturally results in higher revenue for the hospital.
When things like patient communication and internal data management are automated, you’ll be light on your feet when it’s time to expand your healthcare business. As you adopt home health automation software and streamline most of your day-to-day operations, you’ll have a custom, fine-tuned system that is ready for scaling. And with proper interoperability standards in place, a database migration won’t hold your entire company hostage.
But don’t be fooled by this abundance of benefits. It all comes at a price.
The challenges of developing custom home health automation solutions
Building a home health automation system is a serious undertaking. For the final product to be worth the wait, you need to be aware of the potential pitfalls. Here are some major flaws that can ruin an otherwise usable solution:
Less than perfect user experience. The software will be used by your clinicians, administrators, and nurses, but more importantly, by elderly patients who aren’t always tech-savvy. Keep that in mind when you begin the development of your home health care application. A clunky, convoluted user interface can ruin the experience for your staff and customers. Whether it’s on a phone, computer, or some other device, it should only take a few clicks to get things done.
Irrelevant functionality. Home health automation software features that are irrelevant to your business needs shouldn’t make it to the final version of your software. Work closely with your software partner from the very start to set the exact scope of functions your facility will need.
Poor compliance with regulations. Keeping track of all the industry’s standards and regulatory acts to comply with is no easy task. Among other things, your custom home health automation solution should prioritize the security of patient data at all times. You’ll need to strictly follow the HIPAA requirements.
Problematic data migration. As we mentioned before, home automation and home health care solutions of today require special formats that facilitate data exchange and analysis. It’s important to implement them at the most basic layer of your software and format your legacy data accordingly.
So how can you avoid the risk of getting a software product that fails to meet your expectations? One way to do that is by carefully choosing your software vendor — based on their portfolio and reviews by clients.
Don’t hesitate, automate
Automating routine and manual tasks is an absolute necessity in today’s competitive healthcare market. Hospitals and other health agencies that engage in home care need to embrace this phase of their digital transformation. With reasonable effort and investment, your medical facility can become significantly more agile and resilient, ready to weather any new storm that may come your way.
However, it should be noted that home health automation software development is a complex process that requires specific skills and expertise. Just the kind Demigos can offer.
Our pin-sharp focus on health and agetech, combined with established processes and industry-proven technology, has kept us on a winning streak of successful deliveries. Demigos is a full-cycle healthcare software development company, and we’re prepared to handle your project in every phase — from preliminary market research to final release, testing, and support. Let’s get in touch!