Home healthcare is care provided by a professional caregiver in the patient’s home as a continuation of the care received in the medical practice. There has been an increase in demand for homecare due to the pandemic as healthcare organizations scramble to provide their patients with a safe alternative care setting. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) also announced that in 2021 it would be adding an estimated $390 million[¹] payment increase for home health providers.
What is a digital front door system?
Home healthcare is on the rise; therefore, healthcare organizations are seeking solutions to provide their patients with the best care within their homes. One such solution is a digital front door system: in other words, a digital solution that consolidates patient engagement self-service tools in one place and can be accessed via a single login. With a digital front door system, patients can interact with their provider and chosen healthcare organization in a multitude of ways, including appointment scheduling, direct messaging, and medication management.
With a digital front door, patients are able to view their medical records at any time, including active medication, lab results, and health summaries. Effective solutions will also allow patients to view their data in various formats, such as filtering online medical records by an episode of care and viewing lab results in a graph format. Graphs can be used to depict trends over time, ensuring ease of understanding.
Currently, most home healthcare providers have set schedules for when they see patients. It’s believed that patients should be seen on the same day and times by the same nurse during their home healthcare journey[²]. Patients get very little say in the matter. A digital front door system allows patients to take control of their healthcare and dictate their care schedule with a patient appointment scheduling feature. Patients can schedule and cancel upcoming visits via the digital front door or facilitate their visits via a telehealth session. Automated medical appointment scheduling results in fewer errors for your healthcare practice. During the scheduling or intake process, patients are able to fill out forms within the digital front door. Information from these forms then flows back into the source system (Electronic Health Record (EHR), Revenue Cycle Management (RCM), or Practice Management (PM) software.
Within a digital front door system patients have a direct touchpoint with a provider and are able to message them with any questions or concerns in a HIPAA compliant manner between scheduled visits. The patient messaging solution can also send patients medication and appointment reminders with Interactive voice response (IVR) capability. Providers can also send broadcast messages to their patients to notify them of newly available services/offerings or of changes they should be made aware of, such as vaccination news.
Remote patient monitoring
A remote patient monitoring solution equips patients with connected devices based on their health, such as a blood pressure monitor, blood glucose device, or wearable activity tracker. With the use of these devices, patient’s vitals are shared automatically with the healthcare organization’s EHR or to a portal/dashboard tool for a provider/care team member to review. Access to synchronous, actionable data enables home healthcare providers to provide personalized care and support to their patients. If the patient’s vitals are acceptable, that might mean they don’t require an in-person visit. Abnormal values can trigger an alert in the EHR notifying the provider that action is needed.
Caregiver proxy access gives family members/caregivers access to patient’s medical records when they aren’t present. These users are then able to contact relevant providers with regards to information found in the proxy account, such as recent care episodes or changes in medication. The level of caregiver access can be determined by the patient and changed at any time.
The healthcare tasking software found within the digital front door system aids healthcare providers in assigning care plans to patients. This feature simplifies daily schedules, tasks, and documentation for providers. It is integrated with the practice’s source systems, which allows it to combine everything a healthcare organization needs into one easily navigable system, streamlining tasks, improving communication, and facilitating collaboration.
A digital front door system is a consolidation of multiple patient engagement features. These features individually have been found to aid healthcare organizations and improve patient health outcomes, bundled together into one supercharged solution that can prove invaluable to home healthcare organizations.
- Cms.gov. (2020). Home Health Agency (HHA) Center | CMS. [online] Cms.gov. Available at: https://www.cms.gov/Center/Provider-Type/Home-Health-Agency-HHA-Center.
- Demirbilek, M., Branke, J. and Strauss, A.K. (2019). Home healthcare routing and scheduling of multiple nurses in a dynamic environment. [online] Flexible Services and Manufacturing Journal. Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10696-019-09350-x#Sec20