*The following blog is a condensed version of a National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) education session. Medalogix CEO, Dan Hogan, and Alternate Solutions HomeCare’sCOO, Chad Creech, presented the session Oct. 20, 2014. View the corresponding slide deck below.
It’s not because the healthcare technology is ineffective and lacks potential, it’s because healthcare technologies are experiencing growing pains as they rush development to meet healthcare’s immediate demand and incredible change in how healthcare companies conduct business.
Many of our industry’s un-evolved technologies allow providers to check the I’m-using-technology box, when the technology isn’t actually solving a challenge or improving a process. These technologies typically focus on features, stop after the first step and interfere with existing processes.
Only when technology understands and addresses the end user’s goals, can technology be valuable.
To ensure our technology is more than merely a check box, we worked hand in hand with care providers to develop Medalogix.
Based on our experience developing an end-user and solution focused product, here are 5 questions care providers should ask before they invest in technology to set the foundation for success:
1. Are we ready? Change requires change. Adopting a new technology may require changes to your processes, business strategy, team members’ roles and existing technology. Examine each of these areas to best determine how your new technology may affect them. After a closer look, you may find you need to alter your processes, adjust staff roles or update your existing technology. Are these changes worth it? It’s better to weigh your options now rather than after you’ve already invested.
2. How do the technology’s back-end features affect your front-end experience? Analytics and technology can’t reduce readmissionsand improve outcomes. That’s what clinicians do. Technology informs competent clinicians and leaders to make the best decisions for their patients and the organization. The technology you choose must be intuitive to easily support your clinicians and leaders.
3. How should this get used? First you need to name the technology’s champion. This person will be responsible for full utilization and ROI. When you empower an individual with this responsibility, there’s a project leader and buy-in, so your odds of success improve tremendously.
To that point, organization-wide buy-in is extremely important. If your team members can’t see what’s in it for them, they won’t be motivated to use the technology to its best ability. For instance, clinicians are very busy. Their focus is centered on caring for the patient. They already feel bogged down by all the required paperwork and administrative protocols. If you explain in advance how this technology will decrease repeat paperwork and help them better care for their patients, they’ll care about making it work. Introduce the technology and its benefits to your team before you deploy.
4. What am I measuring for success? First, to determine what success is, pinpoint what you’re measuring. If changing outcomes is what you’re trying to achieve, understand the inputs that make it possible. Just as you can’t look at a revenue report without taking a closer look at your number of patients and average reimbursement, you can’t reduce readmissions without measuring transitional care practices, care plan adjustments, frequency scheduling, touchpoints, and other critical factors. Determine which of these metrics matter most, and track them.
After you’ve pinpointed your metrics for success, inform your technology provider. This way, you and your provider are aligned in what success looks like. Further, be definitive with your technology provider. Say, we’ll consider your technology a success if we reduce readmissions by 10 percent and we won’t consider it a success if we reduce by less than 5 percent. When both the end user and the technology provider have the same goals, the goals are more likely reached.
5. Is my technology provider a partner or a vendor?
Your technology provider must partner with you and your team to ensure success. You don’t want a vendor who sells you something, walks away and transfers the onus to you. A technology partner will:
- Project my value for me. A partner isn’t intimidated by accountability metrics. Instead, a technology partner will deliver a pre and post technology value assessment. Technology must directly contribute to enhanced patient care and your bottom line. If it doesn’t, it’s merely technology for technology sake. A technology partner will gladly establish and report value.
- Give me a resource network. Partners will extend research resources like references, case studies and best practices. Ask for these resources and follow through with past and existing client references. You’ll learn a lot from others’ successes and failures.
- Set future expectations. Your chosen technology provider should offer implementation and subsequent troubleshooting and consultative services to ensure the technology’s success. Ask about response times and maintenance plans.
When technologies work, the results can be game changing. Although our industry may have had some growing pains in its initial technology adoption, technology is an answer to America’s healthcare challenges. Consider these questions to ensure your next technological investment benefits your bottom line, and first and foremost, your patients.