axiscare home care software

Mastering Caregiver Scheduling to Enhance Home Care Management

Introduction

For decades, progress in the home health care space has been stunted by a lack of automation – especially when it comes to scheduling. Agencies are up against a mosaic of challenges when it comes to resource allocation: What is each caregiver’s area of expertise? Which services does each patient need? What if someone calls in sick or runs into an unexpected issue on the road? Most of the time, manual inputs are not fast or comprehensive enough to solve these issues on the fly. Home care software addresses these obstacles by centralizing scheduling information under a single digital roof, giving administrators the tools to easily manage, adjust, and optimize their timetables. In this paper, we will discuss why every home care agency should leverage home care software for scheduling and how it can improve both caregiver retention and patient outcomes.

Background

Evolution of Home Care Scheduling

Before the advent of technology in home care, each function was completed manually. Scheduling relied heavily on paper-based tracking, phone calls, and spreadsheets, all of which are time-consuming and prone to human error. Manual inputs are also notoriously inflexible: if a caregiver has a last-minute availability change, it can create a domino effect throughout the entire timetable as employees are shuffled around.

With no good way to track and manage unexpected changes, agencies are at a much greater risk of missing appointments and inconveniencing patients. Lack of real-time information also makes it difficult to address and overcome emergency situations.

Enter home care scheduling software, which unites all of these functions under one digital roof. Software creates a seamless connection between stakeholders, enabling them to automatically match caregivers to patients, optimize routing, receive real-time status alerts, and more.

Managing these daily tasks strategically will only continue to become more relevant, as 80% of adults aged 50 to 80 believe it’s important to age at home.

Significance of Caregiver Scheduling in Enhancing Patient Care

Compared to hospital and clinical practitioners, at-home caregivers have a special type of relationship with their patients. They are welcomed into personal spaces, providing a level of care that feels even more relational. It’s imperative for agencies to set the stage for consistent caregiver-patient relationships, fostering trust in a situation that requires vulnerability and cooperation.

A major pillar of that trust is knowing that caregivers will arrive on time, and that the same individual will consistently be present. If patients are kept in the dark about their caregiver’s whereabouts, or if last-second schedule changes must be made without warning, agencies risk eroding that precious trust.

Timely and consistent access to caregivers provides patients with greater continuity of care, leading to higher levels of satisfaction. The more empowered patients feel, the more likely they are to adhere to care plans and commit to improving their health.

Importance of Efficient Caregiver Scheduling

Optimal Resource Allocation

As is the case in most healthcare environments, caregiving agencies have a very limited pool of resources. Supporting your schedulers with tailor-made software is the best way to free up precious time and bandwidth through automation. Features like customizable scheduling algorithms take the guesswork out of patient-caregiver matching, intelligently cross-referencing practitioners’ skills and abilities with patients’ needs.

Since there are only so many hours in a day, scheduling software goes a long way towards minimizing downtime and friction. Planning shifts for optimized routing, staggering shifts to ensure maximum coverage during peak hours, and flexible scheduling options like part-time shifts or on-call arrangements can keep agencies adaptable while minimizing idle time.

Improved Patient Outcomes

No matter the context, it’s always nice to see a familiar face. Patients who receive care from the same practitioner are more likely to feel a sense of stability and reassurance, knowing that their unique needs and preferences will be immediately understood. Home care software can help agencies successfully match caregivers to the right patient and ensure continuity over time.

What’s more, by leveraging scheduling data to identify patterns across home visits, agencies can gain valuable insights into individual patients’ needs, preferences, and responses to treatment. Then, they can use that data to optimize care plans to better suit the circumstances and promote positive health outcomes.

Cost-Effectiveness

Inefficient scheduling is a very costly proposition. Agencies end up spending more on overtime to hastily patch up scheduling gaps, losing revenue on missed appointments, and taking on resource-intensive administrative work.

Optimized caregiver scheduling does away with all of these time and financial drains. Automatically optimizing your timetables helps avoid unnecessary overtime and overstaffing, while taking your operations online reallocates time spent on manual resources towards other essential aspects of home care delivery.

Technological Solutions for Caregiver Scheduling

Scheduling Software

The right scheduling software will accomplish way more than placing appointments on a calendar. Advanced features include:

  • Real-time caregiver status updates, including whether they’re running behind or their overall satisfaction after a visit, assisting in caregiver retention efforts.
  • Automated shift adjustments and open shift notifications that intelligently match available staff with patients in need.
  • Intuitive scheduling that considers drive times, distance between visits, patient and client preferences, etc.
  • Compliance tracking for every visit to ensure you are complying with federal and state mandates at all times.

Another major benefit of using a digital platform is integrating with Electronic Health Records (EHR), automatically transferring patient data, schedules, and care plans between the software and EHR systems. This keeps information consistent and accurate across platforms, making it easier for disparate care teams to coordinate and communicate essential information.

Mobile Applications

Most of a caregiver’s day unfolds on the road, commuting between appointments and completing at-home visits. From access to schedules and patient data to communication tools, the ability to access everything they need via a tablet or mobile app is non-negotiable. Choosing a platform built with their role is imperative to job satisfaction and eliminating frustrations and possible technical issues.

On the agency side, mobile apps are an excellent accountability and reporting tool. Geolocation and time-tracking features provide real-time data about each caregiver’s whereabouts, enabling them to track their operations in the moment and boost efficiency.

Predictive Analytics

Optimization is an effort that unfolds gradually over time, and predictive analytics are the engine that drives it forward. Agencies can use historical data trends to anticipate future staffing needs, ensuring the right caregivers are available at the right times to meet patient demands.

What’s more, analytics can help proactively identify and solve potential scheduling conflicts before they happen. Instead of conducting these analyses manually – which would be nearly impossible given the breadth and depth of the data – home care software can automatically collect and interpret this information.

Challenges & Solutions

Addressing Caregiver Burnout

Improper schedule management is a fast track to caregiver burnout. According to one UPenn study of full-time registered nurses, those with the least volatile schedules were 40% less likely to quit than average, while nurses with the most volatile schedules were 50% more likely to quit.

Scheduling software can circumvent these issues by automating task assignments based on certain parameters and avoiding lopsided shift allocation. Using predictive analytics, providers can also identify burnout risk factors like the ones we mentioned above. That way, they can get ahead of potential burnout situations and make schedule adjustments wherever necessary.

Adapting to Changes in Patient Needs

Caregivers aren’t the only ones whose schedules and needs can change unexpectedly. Adaptive planning involves continuously reassessing schedules and allocating resources based on changing patient demands, keeping agencies nimble and able to quickly adapt to evolving situations.

In the event of an emergency, contingency plans and flexible scheduling capabilities can be the difference between failing to deliver and maintaining continuity of care.

Successful Use Case

Family Resource Home Care (FRHC) vetted 22 different software solutions and trialed 4 in-depth before choosing AxisCare. They found that their caregivers were dreading routine tasks like scheduling due to lots of friction within the workflow. If they wanted to continue to scale beyond their 26 current locations, FRHC knew they needed to find a better way to automate.

The agency was particularly interested in features like intuitive scheduling – which automatically optimizes routing based on granular parameters – and AxisCare’s “real-time view,” allowing them to track and manage all things schedule-related as they happen.

This lead to:

  • Significant increase in shift count hours per week
  • 88% of caregivers receive more than 70% of their preferred work hours
  • Increase in retention, with caregivers staying with FRHC for at least 90 days on average

Read more of their success story here.

Future Trends & Innovations

Artificial Intelligence in Caregiver Scheduling

As we discussed above, automation has major implications for efficiency in home health care: given the ability to crunch vast amounts of data in virtually no time, AI can be the gateway to game-changing predictive analytics that help agencies deliver better care over time. It can also be used to analyze parameters like availability, patient needs, and schedule gaps, intelligently organizing and allocating resources.

Every organization’s end goal with AI should be to take administrative work off employees’ plates. That way, they can focus on higher-level concerns like retention, patient satisfaction, and improving health outcomes.

Conclusion

The evolution of home care scheduling from manual processes to advanced technological solutions has transformed the care delivery landscape. By addressing long-standing challenges like inefficiency and a lack of real-time information, scheduling software and predictive analytics have emerged as powerful tools for optimizing resource allocation, enhancing patient care, and ensuring long-term success. Coupled with mobile apps and predictive analytics, agencies can make it even easier for caregivers to do their jobs well, fostering a more patient-centric approach that can actually improve outcomes over time. As home care continues to evolve, embracing budding trends and innovations like artificial intelligence and telehealth will be essential for meeting the growing demand for high-quality, personalized care at home.

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