As more and more of our personal life becomes digitized, it’s no surprise that businesses – including home care and home hospice agencies – are closely following suit. Paper-based inefficiencies waste time and money; implementing paperless clinical documentation is an effective way to improve patient care.
But before you say goodbye to paper for good, understand what going paperless means to your processes and procedures and be prepared to help your staff make the transition.
Why Consider Going Paperless?
Hospice of the Piedmont, a Virginia-based agency that provides patients with compassionate pain control and symptom management, recently made the switch to digital documentation. And they’re not the only ones. Agencies stand to gain multiple benefits, including the ability to:
- Document visits at the point of care. This instantly puts information in the hands of caregivers, administrators, and payers, as well as patients and families. Such real-time communication allows administrators to more effectively monitor patient care and employee service.
- Address issues quickly. Because current care information is readily available for viewing, concerns can be noted and resolved before they become problems.
- Submit documentation and billing quickly. Paper documentation can take days or weeks to submit, be processed, and paid.
- Meet electronic visit verification requirements. Reliable proof-of-visit via GPS-based mobile visit verification.
- Reduce administrative time and mileage expenses. Caregivers no longer need to drive in to the office to deliver paperwork.
- Improve communication for a workforce out in the field. Better documentation can help in-home caregivers feel connected and engaged.
- Allow caregivers to focus on providing the best care possible. Digital documentation means less time spent reporting mileage, checking schedules, and mapping destinations.
Efficiency has truly been one of the biggest benefits of going digital, according to Lara Fisher of Hospice of the Piedmont. Because one of an agency’s biggest expenses is labor, these funds should be directed toward patient care, not time-consuming paper documentation.
Which Paper Processes Should You Move to Digital?
What might “going digital” look like for your agency? Identify up front the processes you’ll transition to digital. These might include:
- Proof of services rendered. Using GPS check-ins and time stamps, software can simplify scheduling reconciliation.
- Mileage documentation. GPS coordinates can also help accurately determine miles driven and, if necessary, apply time accounting to assign different reimbursement rates for weekends and weekdays.
- Clinical documentation. Online files are legible, are always stored in a HIPAA-compliant environment, and can be documented in real time and at the point of care by one or multiple users.
- Reporting. When documentation is online, report creation and execution is simplified. Agencies can quickly use real-time reports to improve both the agency and clients’ outcomes.
- Accounting. Previously manual reporting tasks can be transformed into single-click solutions.
- Data sharing. When combined with client portals, digital documentation can be securely and instantaneously shared, improving the continuum of care and offering an unprecedented level of service.
Creating Your Plan to Go Paperless
This transition isn’t without its challenges. As Lara explains, “There are many things to work out, a lot of things to think through. Plus, there are habits to change. You really have to think ahead.”
Lara shared the following top lessons learned from her experience at Hospice of the Piedmont:
1. Think carefully about codes and how processes will work.
Hospice of the Piedmont discovered they had to carefully consider how to streamline service codes and processes to integrate them into a paperless environment. Management also had to closely review each part of the digital plan to decide how — or if — it would be incorporated.
For example, how would PRN staff be included? Could the program account for the difference in mileage rate reimbursement between weekdays and weekends? These questions and others had to be answered.
2. Start by dual documenting.
Before completely abandoning all paper, caregivers were asked to dual document in both paper and digital during the transition period. This gave the agency valuable information about what worked, what didn’t, and how to best capture the right information. It also identified gaps in training for any caregivers who struggled with the new technology.
3. Don’t forget the “people” aspect of technology.
One of the biggest challenges Hospice of the Piedmont found during its transition was simply being patient with the whole process. Transitioning to a paperless environment meant getting buy-in from all the employees, not just the tech team that implemented the program, and this took time.
However, the enthusiasm of clinical staff was critical to success. Understandably, it’s not always easy or fast for all staff to learn a new program, but Lara believes the time and effort they took to ensure everyone was onboard was well worth it.
Making a Smart Digital Solution Selection
When your agency is ready to make the move to paperless, Lara recommended ensuring your technology solution providers have the programming expertise to handle the nuances of your business. The best provider is the one that will work closely with you, advocate for you, and work hard to create the optimal system.
“Before you even get to going paperless,” she explained, “you better have a good partner. That goes a long way.”
Providing extraordinary customer service is what CellTrak is known for, and Hospice of the Piedmont experienced it first-hand. “Even if the problem wasn’t CellTrak’s, they helped us pursue satisfactory resolutions,” said Lara.
When the success of your home care agency depends on accurate, timely documentation, you need a solution you can trust. Learn more about how CellTrak’s Care Delivery Management solution can optimize your paperless experience and help you improve your home care services.