When it comes to using technology -- for medical collaboration, communication, meaningful use of medical records, or any other crucial function -- there are a lot of considerations that come into play.
In our relationships with current and prospective iClickCare users, we've seen decision parameters run the gamut from savvy to uninformed. And we were intrigued to see a recent report on key features that home health agencies look for in software, from Software Advice, a company that reviews medical software. In 385 interactions with home health software buyers, they found:
- 97% of buyers prefer a cloud-based system over an on-premise solution.
- Field support (mobile and remote access) was the most requested feature to better track care in the patient’s home.
- First-time buyers want the benefits of going digital, and top reasons for purchasing included improving efficiency (58%) and “going paperless” (35%).
We think that this orientation toward cloud-based, efficient, adaptable systems that allow remote access is right on.
This is a smart way for home health agencies -- any group, really -- to make the most of their technology dollars, comply with regulatory issues, and positively impact patient and provider satisfaction. That's one reason we had concerns about a report that Time Warner Cable and the Cleveland Clinic are collaborating on a pilot project installing video conferencing hardware in patient's homes to lower hospital readmissions. This kind of focus on expensive hardware installations can actually make outcomes for patients worse. By not using simple software, cloud-based systems that can be accessed from anywhere, and leveraging hardware that providers already have (like the smartphone in their pocket), a lot of resources tend to be wasted. For that reason, we recommend keeping the following things in mind in any big health IT investment:
- Keep hardware investment to a minimum. Always see whether you can use existing hardware -- whether computers, smartphones, or other resources -- and invest your dollars in good software and systems. Hardware can easily go obsolete, while software can be updated.
- Make sure it's easy to use. Medical providers have enough on their plate without having to learn complicated systems or having to operate completely new hardware. Look for something that leverages what people already know... and demand a well-designed, easy-to-use interface.
- Prioritize flexibility and collaboration. Some systems can only be used or shared with providers that are "in the network." Look for a service that allows you to get consults and support from any provider, regardless of their status with your service.
- Invest in systems that can be used from anywhere. As the study above shows, savvy buyers are looking for cloud-based services (SaaS) that can be accessed from anywhere -- that kind of flexibility tends to pay off in the long run.