Last week, MEDITECH invited industry leaders to attend our 2023 Home Care Symposium, an event curated to the specific needs of home health and hospice organizations. Our virtual conference provided three days of sessions featuring insights from thought leaders, customer success stories, and guidance on using our Home Care solution to its full capability. Leadership guides success, and our presenters imparted valuable knowledge to energize and inform attendees.
Transform data into informed decision making
Opening the conference, our first keynote speaker, Lindsay Doak, Director of Research at BerryDunn, shared the results of the organization’s 2021 National Healthcare at Home Best Practices and Future Insights Study. As one of the most recent comprehensive studies on home health and hospice, it introduces key insights into trends essential to the continued success of the industry. Without data to help guide the decision making process, making effective change often feels just out of reach.
The study outlines critical findings such as the ideal threshold for average caseloads and at what point patient and clinician satisfaction and quality drops. By setting a baseline for agencies to evaluate their own practices, the research addresses not only industry concerns but organization-specific ones as well.
Prioritize staffing, retention, and recruitment
In a nation experiencing an aging population and staff shortages, organizations must prepare for the future by focusing their efforts on staff in every stage of their career. It’s not simply a matter of how agencies can entice workers to join, but also how they can reduce turnover and maintain valued employees. Doak noted that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution–it’s up to the agency to know their market and stay competitive.
Holyoke Visiting Nurse Association, Inc., & Hospice Life Care, in their agency profile session, shared how they introduced on-call nurses to address after hours issues and improve retention of their RNs. Adding social workers to their staff also freed up time for the clinicians and supported their patients’ emotional health, improving overall outcomes.
When discussing recruitment strategies, an overarching theme appeared: be an advocate. Leaders acknowledged a lack of education on homecare in medical schools and how advocacy can be a catalyst for change. Agencies should actively seek out opportunities to speak at medical programs and represent this essential part of healthcare.
Engage clinicians to improve patient and staff satisfaction
Burnout continues to affect clinicians across specialties, home health and hospice included. When clinicians develop apathy for their work, patient satisfaction rates typically follow a downward trend.
“A clinician is not just a cog in the wheel, making the visit because you told them to. They need to be engaged,” stated Cindy Krafft, Owner/Founder at K&K Health Care Solutions. Her keynote presentation focused on the importance of intentional care planning, or allowing the clinicians time to familiarize themselves with the patient and their routine. Cultivating that trust not only improves survey results, but helps clinicians build confidence in their ability as caregivers.
Plus, with frontline workers acting as the face of an organization, a passion for their profession reflects on the employer. If clinicians lack agency or a voice internally at the organization, those frustrations can carry over into their daily work, contributing to potential burnout.
Invest in a multidisciplinary team
Many sessions proposed a vital question to attendees: how can we prevent rehospitalization? In the first few days at home, patients enter a critical period where they’re most likely to be readmitted. Stabilizing the patient requires close observation and an engaged team prepared to handle the full spectrum of care needs, such as wound care.
The BerryDunn study confirmed that “having a wound certified clinician on staff helps lower emergency department use,” according to Doak. If an agency cannot offer certain services, they may be forced to turn away a referral or transfer a patient that requires more than they can offer. Agencies should identify the care services they want to provide, also noting future ambitions, and build their team around those goals.
Tailor your technology
Keeping up with the continuous changes in health IT can feel daunting, but organizations should look at these changes as an opportunity to embrace innovation and optimize their systems. For example, speakers implored attendees to invest in interoperability, as it opens up a new world of possibilities for homecare, a field which requires a strong continuum of care.
Another important objective of the Home Care Symposium is keeping our customers up to date on our Home Care solution and how to use it effectively. MEDITECH staff and one of our early adopters, Stillwater Medical Home Health, dove into the version 2.8 system updates we’re currently rolling out: improved navigation, expansion of choice tailoring solutions, and streamlining of documentation.
“As home health and hospice providers, it’s our time,” shared Lindsay Doak in her keynote. “We have to seize this moment.”
Thank you to all of our speakers who helped us inspire meaningful change, shared valuable insights, and showed attendees how they can influence the next era of home health and hospice technology. We proudly close out another successful Home Care Symposium and look forward to planning next year’s.
Expand on these themes by tuning into podcast episodes from both of our 2023 keynote speakers. Listen to more takeaways from the BerryDunn study and the company's influential initiatives with Lindsay Doak. Then learn how home care agencies can achieve top quality care and maximum reimbursement with Cindy Krafft and Sherry Teague of K & K Health Care Solutions.
Tune into the MEDITECH Podcast for transformational lessons from health IT leadership.