Mobile technology is helping to enable small medical practices to realize efficiencies in ways that were previously unknown.
This has been embraced by First Choice Home Health & Hospice of Utah who estimates that they save more than $500,000 annually.
First Choice Home Health and Hospice was first established in Utah on January 1996. Since then, they have grown to support approximately 400 patients in four counties, through a network of about 170 employees (most of them remote clinicians).
The organization discovered that they could save money because their clinical staff was logging up to 2,500 miles per year in mileage– just to come into the main office to file paperwork. This needless amount of traveling was costing First Choice thousands of dollars and tablet computers and notebooks were not an ideal solution. First Choice needed a software application that allowed them to file paperwork fast, electronically and on the go.
To solve this problem, they worked with Allscripts to develop the specific software. Allscripts is one of the largest companies focused on healthcare information technology, with over 5,500 employees and revenues of approximately $1.2 billion. Their products include an electronic health record as well as various other healthcare related software.
Interestingly, the fastest way for clinical staff out in the field to file the paperwork using the Allscripts software was through their Windows Phones. Beau Sorenson, CFO of First Choice Home Health & Hospice of Utah, explains the choice.
“Computers felt like a barrier to the patient. It didn’t feel like a good patient/clinician connection. So we ended up working with Allscripts to find a device that supported the application.”
The results are promising. Since the beta version of the software app was implemented a year ago, Sorenson said First Choice cut the time to get Medicare reimbursements from 90 days to 45 days. Employee travel time has been reduced by 70% since there is less miles traveled to and from the office to file paperwork. The organization also reports a 17 percent increase in clinician productivity, meaning that they can see more patients with the time they are cutting out in administrative duties.
Sorenson gave some valuable mobile healthcare tips to the author of the article, which are reproduced below.
- Keep it simple. Sometimes the most advanced technology solution isn’t the best one. While First Choice Home Health & Hospice of Utah initially tried laptops for the Allscripts software, it got in the way of the patient-caregiver connection. Plus, the wireless network required for transmission wasn’t always reliable, although it was fast.
- Get executives involved. Sorenson, who lived in Japan for several years, said the plan for the mobile technology was discussed among managers internally for some time before deciding to proceed. By making line-of-business executives part of the decision, the technology was adopted more readily. “The most important thing is to make sure everyone is on the same page,” he said.
- Use early adopters as evangelists. Within your organization, there are likely to be some who are more enthusiastic than most about the new technology. Use them to help train and help others incorpore these tools into business processes.
- Make the transition quick. Initially, First Choice Home Health & Hospice of Utah moved just some of its caregivers to the electronics filing process. This resulted in a solution that was harder to support than the original way. “As a result, we didn’t realize the savings the way we could have,” Sorenson said. “Try to do it all at once wherever possible.”