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By Rick Morey, HomeTrak Software
Rule number one for running a successful, profitable home care company: it is essential to have an efficient, cost effective administrative operation. A hard fact of the homecare industry is that the location of an agency, to a large extent, dictates the billing rates as well as caregiver pay. Therefore, agency profitability is primarily dependent on how efficiently the company is run. Software, used in the right way, helps agencies become more productive and more profitable.
What started out as simple scheduling software has now evolved as the industry has evolved. Most homecare scheduling software platforms incorporate business management, operations, scheduling, relationship management and more. There are so many features and capabilities now available for the caregiver and agency owner on the go, it is important to understand the fundamentals as well as what’s new in the world of scheduling and management software.
At its core, the biggest advantage to using homecare scheduling software, is maintaining and building long term relationships with clients and caregivers. Clients and caregivers are often with agencies for years and in order to maintain continuity, it is important to track details regarding these relationships over time. Unlike clients and caregivers, internal administrative staff tends to turn over more frequently. Software allows agencies to keep detailed, easily retrievable records providing new staff critical information to make good decisions for clients and caregivers.
When to implement a software solution – Most agencies can handle about 10-12 clients without software before it gets too complex. However, if affordable, agencies should begin using software from day one. It is easier to learn in the early stages of an agency and operationally, the way an agency does business will evolve to a great degree around the functionality of the software. Remember, after the doors are open, staff will only get busier.
Making the software selection – Agency owners need to understand that their initial software selection is critical to their future. It is very difficult to switch software later. Assume that your company will become a large successful business and choose software accordingly. Selecting software based solely on price only can be very expensive decision. Think about the functionality and scalability for the future.
Making the most of functionality – In many instances home care staff will learn the basics of their particular software and decide that’s all they need. Frequently they will only use 30-40% of the software’s functionality. Home care companies are an extremely busy day to day operation; however, don’t fall into the trap of underused capabilities. It is essential that agency staff become power users of their software solution. Pushing staff and management to use full functionality will pay off in the long run.
What’s new in homecare software?
There are a lot of new features in most software platforms that will help agency owners and caregivers function more efficiently such as text messaging, mobile apps and more. Before talking about new developments, a quick review of what homecare software should ultimately be doing for an agency’s productivity and growth.
The first major goal of any homecare scheduling software platform should be to increase marketing impact. Software can
, and should, have an impact on marketing efforts. For example, being able to use the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that is built into many software systems is critical to managing referral sources. As with clients and caregivers, long term information regarding your business relationships is essential. It is also important to understand and track the benefit/ cost of obtaining referrals. Understanding this data will help agencies identify where resources are being spent and make better decisions as they grow their agency. In the vein of increased productivity, new features and new technology are making it easier than ever for agencies to manage, schedule and connect with their staff and clients.
The IT analytics firm IDC, predicts that by 2015 more computer users in the United States will access the Internet through mobile devices such as Smartphones and tablets. Mobile computing has enabled the next wave of productivity enhancements in scheduling software. With the use of a tablet or a Smartphone, homecare aides can look at their assigned tasks at the point-of-care. Agency owners can tap into schedules, cases and more while on the road, which greatly enhances care management efficiency.
It also creates ease when working with caregivers such as providing turn-by-turn directions from their current location to their next scheduled visit to reduce drive time while saving on mileage costs. Additionally, caregivers can pull up and follow a task-based care plan enabling each visit to become more productive while assigned tasks are properly documented.
Having these new mobile technology features allows homecare agencies to execute tasks with greater precision. The integrated software management tool brings a more systematic and organized handling of staff schedules, visit verification and execution.
Accessing software in the cloud solves numerous problems that have previously existed in the world of homecare software. The cloud eliminates the heavy costs of installing software systems on local servers. It also allows owners, caregivers and families access from anywhere at any time with a simple login via the web. The biggest win for homecare agencies with cloud based software platforms is real-time collaboration. Cloud infrastructure gives staff full access to information across devices, so they can be productive in more places, giving users seamless access to their information at work, at home, on the road and from their mobile devices.
A common challenge between agency and caregiver has been scheduling alerts and communicating quickly and efficiently with a mobile caregiving staff. Now homecare software platforms integrate text messaging alerts that initiate from the software directly to caregivers’ mobile phones. Automated text messages and email alerts keep caregivers up to date, eliminate errors and reduce manual workload from scheduling staff.
The takeaway from these tips is that utilizing business management software beyond its most basic functions will differentiate you from your completion and help grow an agency’s profitability.
Rick Morey has been in the home care industry since 1993. He owned and sold a large home care company in Californiaand Arizonawhich had annual sales of $6,000,000. Soon thereafter he began HomeTrak, a scheduling &business management software platform for the private duty home care industry. Rick is a charter member of the National Private Duty Association. For more information about Rick, please visit www.HomeTrak.com, www.facebook.com/hometrak or on Twitter@HomeTrak.