Adapting Home Care Delivery to Improve Information Sharing During the Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic came on many providers quickly, requiring rapid changes in procedures and quick adjustments to cope with immediate pressure to protect patients and caregivers during interactions. While a lot of attention was focused on in-facility operations to stem the infection, that’s not where all care is delivered. For organizations providing significant amounts of care in patients’ homes, new protocols and workflows are important in protecting essential care staff.
That was the problem facing a Northeast integrated delivery system as it sought to revamp care on the fly for home healthcare workers. In addition to gathering information to keep staff informed, the home care staff needed to capture important data to ensure high quality care for patients infected with the coronavirus. The organization engaged Huntzinger consultants to undertake a rapid redesign of processes to enable home health workers to add COVID-19 data as part of their workflow when they prepared for follow-up visits of patients in their homes.
The breakneck speed of COVID-19 cases has forced hospital organizations and their healthcare workers nationwide to adapt to a rapidly changing environment that requires quick analysis and problem solving to protect the staff and the patient community. The integrated delivery system needed to rapidly redesign its processes to communicate information to home health workers so they had the most up-to-date patient data on COVID-19 for follow-up visits.
In short order, Huntzinger convened a meeting with key staff in the organization, which included nursing informatics, case management and home health personnel to develop workflows and technology solutions to help front-line workers obtain COVID-19 data to support in-home care visits. Those involved identified the key requirements for the new home care approach and designed a solution.
Under the new approach, an order was identified to highlight patients who were undergoing COVID-19 related testing; the order was added to the “heads-up” display used by discharge planners. These planners also could access a miniature COVID-19 chart, which they uploaded as part of the referral packet to home healthcare staff, which then could see all the COVID-19 related labs and statuses before they made in-home visits to treat patients.
Within the day, a solution was developed and validated in the test system and then migrated to production. As a result, home healthcare workers were able to provide follow-up patient visits with current COVID-19 data on the patients they were seeing.
The result, more appropriate and safer care for patients, while keeping home care staff informed of the health status of the patients they are seeing in regard to COVID-19.