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Buyer's Guide

by Gaby Loria,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: March 10, 2017

In recent years, the health care industry has been revolutionized by software designed to help organizations manage their processes. With the days of paper records increasingly confined to the past, health care professionals can now capture, track and analyze all their critical data with software tools—enabling them to find efficiencies, boost savings and improve the quality of the care they deliver.

Hospices are no exception to this trend: Today specialized software exists, designed to meet the very particular needs of this important sector of the health care industry. This guide will help prospective buyers learn more about hospice software.

In it, we’ll cover:

What Is Hospice Software?
Common Functionality of Hospice Software
Deployment Models
Benefits of Hospice Software
Industry Trends

What Is Hospice Software?

Hospice software is a more specialized subset of general home health charting and billing solutions. Hospices must strike a balance between running a business smoothly and effectively and delivering quality care with compassion. Here, finding efficiencies is crucial: The less time spent wrangling clinical, financial and administrative data, the more time hospice staff will have to dedicate to looking after patients.

By capturing and consolidating all that administrative data and making it accessible to managers and administrators, hospice software can play a key role in achieving these goals. With your records and analytics centrally stored and accessible via a few clicks of a mouse, more energy and time can be dedicated to patients.

It is especially important for hospice agencies to invest in software that allows users to easily access end-of-life documentation, such as advance directives and Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST). Many patients have prepared this type of documentation, embracing the idea that this may help them carry out their final days on their own terms and free from unwanted or invasive life-sustaining medical measures.

In a recent survey of health care professionals who work in medical practices and senior care centers, Software Advice researchers found the greatest percentage of respondents feel software is a much more effective storage method than paper records for end-of-life decision documents.

Common Functionality of Hospice Software

Hospice processes are very complex, and software can be correspondingly rich in features. At its core, however, it should cover these areas of functionality, if your organization is to benefit from the advantages technology can bring:

Clinical Essentially a hospice EMR, clinical functionality helps simplify clinical processes with tools for managing the documentation of patient care, administering medication, automating alerts and calculating risk assessments, among other capabilities.
Billing Provides tools for managing all aspects of payment, including payroll reporting, Medicare tracking, billing compliance and revenue cycle management.
Scheduling Grants access to employee and patient data to improve the efficiency of scheduling tasks, clinicians, personnel and other resources. Also comes with reminders and an overall view of schedules.
Reporting and analytics Gives users fast insights into the complexities of business revenue and expenses—such as billing, inventory, sales, cost of care and key business metrics. Central dashboards give insight and aid with decision-making.
Staff management Enables managers to keep tabs on staff via time- and absence-tracking tools.
Volunteer tracking Allows administrators to manage volunteer hours and create schedules for them.
Custom forms Generates customizable forms for a variety of documentation needs, including: Medicad waivers, consent forms, assessments, dietary plans, social service paperwork and more.

Deployment Models

Hospice software can be cloud-based or installed on-premise. Cloud-based products have the advantage of simplicity: There is no software to install, updates run automatically and IT staff are not required to manage the technical specifics.

In addition, cloud products are flexible. Critical data is accessible at all times on all Internet-enabled devices, such as laptops, iPads and Android tablets—which enables hospice workers to bring the system with them as they visit patients in their rooms, or to access vital information after hours in case of emergency.

By contrast, on-premise versions can allow administrators more control over the system, but they also require more maintenance, and typically do not offer the advantage of mobility.

Benefits of Hospice Software

A dedicated hospice solution has many benefits, some of which include:

Vast reduction of waste and inefficiency. Software enables hospices to drastically reduce paper usage, while benefiting from the efficiencies of automation and streamlined access to critical information. Maintaining up-to-date records is simplified, as is the process of making sure the organization adheres to compliance standards. Meanwhile, with less time spent on administrative procedures, staff are liberated to dedicate more time to patient care, thus boosting morale.

Improved reporting. The reporting and analytics tools included in software collect information from patient forms and display key performance metrics in accessible dashboards. This gives managers fast insight into standards of care in their organization, as well as into questions related to business performance. Meanwhile, reports that once took a long time to prepare manually can now be generated quickly and efficiently—with a reduced likelihood of human error.

Greater security. Hospice software is usually more secure than paper records for storing sensitive patient information. Paper-based documentation may get stolen or misplaced. On the other hand, software provides layers of security that prevent breaches of patient data, such as encryption and role based access control.

Industry Trends

Customer relationship automation. Some hospice agencies are seeking a solution to help them scale their operations in addition to managing their day-to-day clinical and financial workflows. This is why vendors are starting to introduce customer relationship management (CRM) tools as stand-alone, add-on or integrated applications. These help agencies manage contacts and identify the top referring health care providers in a client’s market so valuable referral sources can be targeted for outreach.

Mobile integration. It’s very important for care takers to make patients feel as comfortable as possible, but it can be difficult to do so when they’re typing in health information on a desktop computer. For this reason, vendors are enabling their software to integrate with mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones. These devices are less obtrusive, allowing staff to have more face time with patients while still fulfilling documentation requirements.

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