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What should I look for in a home healthcare software?

When choosing a home healthcare software, functionality is key. During our software testing, we asked nurses and staff at several homecare agencies what they wanted most out of their systems. The answers were the same every time: “We can get used to any design, but it has to work.” So, what features does a homecare software need to be useful? Below is a list of the features you’ll want to look into before choosing a software for your agency, as well as some key questions to ask. Knowing about software brands’ different offerings will help you make decisions based on your agency’s needs and priorities.
1. Patient and Employee Scheduling

This one is fairly straightforward—a good homecare software should be able to track your agency’s appointments accurately and instantly. Consider the following questions:

  1. What do employee and patient schedules look like in this software? Is there a clear calendar view?
  2. How are staff members notified of changes to their schedules?
  3. Does the software prevent me from double-booking a staff member or patient?
  4. Can I schedule multiple or reoccurring visits at the same time?
  5. How does scheduling account for Medicare’s episode limits?
2. Billing

Billing functionality ensures your agency is compensated for your work. Home healthcare software should be able to share your expenses with Medicare so that you can receive payment.

  1. Can the software submit claims to Medicare or private insurers?
  2. Does the software confirm claims are filled out correctly? If so, how does it communicate errors to our users?
  3. How can I review our claim reimbursement status?
3. Payroll

Many homecare softwares are beginning to include payroll options, so you can track what you owe to each of your employees and schedule payment. This can potentially eliminate the need for a paid subscription with a third-party payroll vendor.

  1. Does the software automatically track employee payments?
  2. Does the software define pay periods?
  3. Is the software capable of calculating taxes and other withholdings? Do I need a third-party payroll software to complete payments?
  4. Nursing Notes
4. Nursing Notes

A main goal of homecare software is to allow nurses to take all of the notes they need, without being an undue burden during the visit. The main focus should always be on the patient, not on filling out pages of notes. Digital nursing notes should be simple, convenient, and well-organized.

  1. What visit types can I take notes for on this software?
  2. Is the notes form easy to fill out? How does the digital notes form save nurses’ time?
  3. Are there any other ways the software allows me to take notes, other than typing (voice recordings, etc.)?
  4. How are completed notes organized? How does the application make it easy to find the notes from a specific visit?
  5. What do the notes look like when completed? Are they easy to read?
  6. Are the notes printable? What do they look like when they’re printed?
5. Digital Signatures and Consents

If a software promises to take your agency digital, it should be able to do so in almost all aspects of your business. This includes one major area in which the homecare software market has lagged—obtaining digital signatures and consents from patients, nurses, and physicians. While some homecare software has begun to offer these features, it’s important to know exactly what they’re offering.

  1. Are there any forms that can’t be completed 100% digitally?
  2. What print capabilities does the software have? How can I retrieve hard copies of forms?
6. Patient Profiles

At the end of the day, a homecare software should improve outcomes for your patients. By making their personal information accessible–including information like emergency contacts, symptoms, and current medications–your nurses and other field staff will have all the information they need, when they need it.

  1. Does the software store emergency medical information and emergency contacts for my patients? How easily accessible is that information in the event of an emergency?
  2. How does your software display patient medical conditions?
  3. What basic symptoms and vitals does the software track?
  4. How can I see the way those symptoms and vitals change over time?
  5. Are there any health status warnings built into the software?
  6. How does the software track medications a patient is taking?
  7. What approval process is in place for patient medications? Who signs off on adding or removing medications?
  8. Who confirms there will be no negative drug interactions? How does the software accept this approval?
7. Quality Assurance

Whatever software you choose, you will need a way to approve or reject nurse’s notes, claims, and other forms.

  1. Can I approve and reject forms in this application?
  2. If I reject a form, what happens to them? How are they amended?
  3. Is there a way for a QA staff member to specify what needs to be fixed when rejecting a form?

Having as many of these features as possible in the same application makes it easier to manage your staff, your patients, and their personal information. Asking these questions ahead of time can give you a better picture of what an application brings to the table, and what other technology investments you might need to make if you choose a specific software.
Next time, we’ll discuss the importance of mobility in a homecare software, as well as ways to determine whether or not a software option has the right design and features to be truly mobile.