Software for Home Care Business: Advantages, Users, Features, and Options

1st April 2021

Demigos’s CEO Ivan Dunskiy explains:
– Why home care business should have an effective IT system for provide better care?
– What features and options should this software include?
– Off-the-shelf VS custom solution: what is the best choice for home care business?

There is no denying that the global home healthcare market has increased in size. Valued at $281.8 billion in 2019, it is projected to grow at least 7.9% between 2020 and 2027. The aging population will continue to demand patient-centric healthcare services. This, in turn, significantly increases the demand for healthcare workers, care homes and agencies, causing a ripple effect.

This demand for value-based healthcare, however, is further exacerbated by the increased need for digital technology. Seniors will require a higher standard of care only technology can help reach. Additionally, the right home care software solution can help improve operational efficiency and help you scale aggressively to meet the rising demand. 

This article will explain how software can help mitigate in-home care business challenges. We’ll also look at some useful features it should have and the differences between off-the-shelf software vs. developing a custom software solution for senior care. 

Exploring the challenges in-home care businesses face

We’ve developed numerous senior care business solutions, and our experience proves that technology can help mitigate many issues home care businesses face. Let’s discover them below.

Manual scheduling

Manual booking and scheduling are always troublesome, even with a smaller client base. A paper-based system for tracking appointments and scheduling will eventually become outdated and hard to follow. On the other hand, introducing a paperless workflow, automated booking and scheduling allows providing better service to clients and saves time.

Lack of financial oversight

Not only are payments to different bank accounts hard to manage, but it’s incredibly difficult to get a birds-eye view of your finances. In-home care businesses should use software that manages the cash flow, payroll, and incoming payments. Using a software platform for senior care businesses can help you gain more control over financial matters.

Inconsistent onboarding processes

Ideally, onboarding should be tailored to each individual, regardless if they’re on the client’s or the caregiver’s side. However, manual onboarding processes tend to be inconsistent and inefficient. Therefore, it’s essential to have an onboarding system that recognizes clients with different health conditions and demands, matching caregivers according to their needs. On the caregiver’s side, onboarding needs to include a way to track qualifications, certifications, and previous experience to provide genuinely tailored care.

Trouble with maintaining quality

Ratings and feedback are vital for your business, where good relations between the caregiver and the client are an enormous part of success. But maintaining the quality of care without tracking feedback from both sides is close to impossible. A software system that allows gathering detailed feedback to provide personalized services will do wonders in making your clients feel cared for.

Inability to scale your services

If you’re planning to expand your operations to a new location, you need to have a software system in place. Otherwise, you won’t be able to implement manual processes across different areas. Scaling requires careful investment into solutions that help you automate processes, go paperless, and establish consistent care quality.

Now that we’ve seen the challenges in-home care businesses need to tackle without software running their operations, let’s look at the other side. Here are the benefits in-home care businesses can reap with the right technology.Advantages of implementing home health business software

As a senior care company manager, you always want to provide better services to your customers and caregivers, spending less time and money on operations. Well, home healthcare software is exactly what your company needs to achieve that and more.

Streamlined operations

Software solutions for senior care allow your business to streamline operations and automate processes. Booking client visits, matching caregivers to clients, managing care planning — there’s a multitude of things that need to be done, but keeping them organized is difficult. A software solution can help manage and organize operations, creating a better experience for both clients and caregivers.

Improved scalability

Once you feel your business is stable, sustainable, and has the right processes in place, you can start thinking about scaling. And this is when software solutions are indispensable: they keep your data organized and automate routine processes. Most importantly, these solutions reduce a large chunk of manual work, like employee tracking and care planning, that could be hard to manage across different locations.

Powerful data

Your in-home care business generates more data than you imagine. Don’t just waste it; use it! Software solutions give you the computing power and analytics to process data and get valuable insights. With their help, you can see what’s working, what needs to be improved, and what opportunities you’re missing out on.

Knowing the advantages of software solutions for your business is the first step to recognizing you need them. Now, let’s look at the roles these systems should incorporate. You’ll see that this kind of software is useful for both your clients and team members.

Who are the users of in-home care software?

The roles you include in the system depend on many factors:

  • Your business model
  • The stage of business development
  • Whether you work with end clients only or you care for people in a facility as well
  • Do you handle private pay only or not, and so on.

But generally speaking, we were able to narrow down the critical roles and their activities in the system.

User roleActivities in the system
ClientBooking appointments with caregivers, communicating with them, creating individual care plans, paying for services, managing the schedule of their visits, giving feedback
CaregiverGetting onboarding instructions, learning, scheduling, choosing available visits, getting detailed information about assignments and clients, receiving payments
Family memberSeeing their senior family member’s activity, information about their emotional and physical wellbeing, exchanging important information, responding immediately, receiving weekly updates
Operations managerSeeing schedules of all assignments, the unassigned assignments, verifying caregivers’ documents, analyzing the number and skills of caregivers to meet the demand
Facility administratorReviewing and monitoring the general performance in a facility, seeing if the demand was met for a specific period, verifying the qualifications and certification of caregivers
Platform administratorSeeing performance reports, analyzing the month-on-month growth rate, reviewing ratings, managing all operations, assignments, caregiver profiles, and required education materials
Third-party service providerSeeing and managing all activity necessary to perform their services (grocery shopping, transportation, doctor appointments)

Four basic requirements of an in-home care software

Hopefully, you’ve warmed up to the idea of setting up a software system to manage your care business. Next step: knowing how to choose one. Start by analyzing if they meet the following essential criteria:

Friendly UI and intuitive UX

The software you choose should be pleasant to interact with and have an intuitive UX for every user.

It’s no secret that seniors aren’t as good with technologies as younger generations. Additionally, they may suffer from visual, hearing, or physical impairments that may influence how they experience digital products. So, make sure the software adapts to their needs.

When we’re talking about facility administration, the system has to show only relevant information, be specific and responsive.

Family members are usually busy people who prefer receiving updates on their mobile devices, so make sure the software you choose has a convenient mobile interface or an app.

Data collection

Your in-home care business software should adhere to policies on collecting, accessing, storing, and analyzing user data. If data is stored in the system, it should be HIPAA compliant. 

The software should follow policies on the disposal of data as well. By data, we mean various kinds of information like images, video, recordings from EHR and EMR systems, and so on. 

Flexibility and scalability

The system should be able to scale properly if you decide to expand your operations. It should also be flexible enough to add or change some functions to meet your business’s requirements.

Responsiveness

Since the system will be used by numerous people at once, it should be ready to process many simultaneous requests from clients, family members, and caregivers. Whether it’s booking, onboarding, making payments, or scheduling, the software should respond to user requests quickly, without glitching.

The next step is looking at what features of the software for in-home care business more in detail.

What features you should be looking for

All solutions for in-home care businesses are different, but they do share a set of features necessary for automating your routine tasks. Here are the features we implemented when developing a custom home care system for Wendy’s Team, a US-based company providing senior care services in the Colorado region.

Booking

A booking module allows clients to select the services they might need and book them quickly. This could include morning or evening routines, companionship, buying groceries, help with transportation, and so on. This function can also allow clients to book multi-visits, e.g., three visits a week for six months ahead, all at different times. It’s an easy, seamless feature that makes initial scheduling visits significantly easier. 

Care plan

Software solutions for senior care should provide features that help you get to know clients better. This could include complimentary visits with detailed questionnaires and questions like age, pre-existing conditions, hobbies and interests, services they require, etc. Having these details organized in a single place will help you design personalized care plans.

Scheduling

An easy-to-manage schedule allows your clients and caregivers to monitor visits and plan their time better. Having a schedule at their fingertips makes your caregivers more flexible.

Onboarding

Onboarding needs to be a consistent process for both clients and caregivers. Understanding how care levels differ and what skills are necessary for clients is essential in creating the right experience. During the onboarding process, you must be able to add caregiver skills, certificates, qualifications, field experience, and educational background. This can help you match caregivers to clients better.

Online payments

By using an elderly care system that features payments, you can significantly improve the cash flow and revenue. Receive timely payments, monitor unpaid invoices, and bill visits quickly. Online payments make this a painless process. Clients can add payment info from the first visit or when a care plan is developed. Caregivers can log hours after each visit, confirm them with the client, and bill the client immediately.

Tracking ratings and feedback

A pleasant experience keeps clients coming back, so they should be able to provide feedback and rate caregivers. This helps you maintain quality and gives caregivers a better understanding of how to care for individual clients.

Reporting 

Running an in-home care business means keeping a careful eye on operations and point of care recording. You need to see how effective your care home is and chart its progress over time. The management should be able to receive reports on booked hours vs. paid hours, forecast sales, review payments and feedback, and manage logistical issues.

Guest Post written by Ivan Dunskiy – CEO at Demigos

Compliance and data security 

It goes without saying that any software solution for medical purposes should take compliance and data security seriously. All confidential information such as hospital record data, patient case histories, and medical information should be carefully protected from data breaches since they may lead to lawsuits and financial repercussions.

Data collection and scalability

An integral feature of a platform for senior care business is data collection. Platform features should create, collect, access, store, and analyze data quickly while being HIPAA-compliant. 

Finding software that can boast of these features isn’t hard; it’s going beyond them that’s difficult. Sometimes, facilities require additional features that aren’t available in out-of-the-box software. Other businesses are fully satisfied with the standard functionality provided. Whether ready-made or custom software is better for your facility depends on its business needs.

More about home care business software features.

Off-the-shelf vs. custom software: choosing the best option for your in-home care business

Off-the-shelf solution

There are many out-of-the-box solutions on the market (167 search results on G2), most of them offering the features we mentioned above. But are all of them equally good? Let’s look at the three most popular and best-performing in-home care solutions based on G2 reviews: 

SolutionClearCareAxisCareMatrixCare
OverviewClearCare is the leading web-based platform for in-home care agencies. It covers all aspects of home care and powers over 4,000 agencies that employ over 600,000 caregivers. AxisCare is a back-office and point-of-sale solution that powers home care agencies across 50 US states and six countries. MatrixCare Home Health & Hospice is a back-office EHR and iPad point-of-care app. It’s the largest post-acute provider in the US that helps caregivers stay compliant with the ever-changing regulations.
PriceThey charge based on the number of your active clients. Besides, you can get credit from the platform for complying with safety best practices.$200.00/month + free trialThis information is not provided by the vendor. 
Target audienceNon-medical home care agencies of all sizesSmall non-medical home care agenciesSkilled nursing facilities 
Key featuresBilling and invoicing Electronic signaturePatient records managementScheduling Time tracking by client CRMAnalytics and reporting Marketing tools Change in condition tracking Caregiver management (screening, hiring, training)Family room portalSmart telephonyCustom formsBilling and invoicing Care plan management Electronic signature Patient records management Scheduling Time tracking by client Custom formsBuilt-in CRMReporting Chat for co-workersCustomized dashboardBilling and invoicingCharting Incident management Meal/nutrition management Medication tracking Patient intake Referral management Scheduling 
PlatformWeb + Caregiver mobile appWeb/Mobile (iOS, Android)Web
TrainingIn-personLive onlineWebinarsDocumentationIn-personLive onlineWebinarsDocumentationIn-personLive onlineWebinarsDocumentation
Awards/CertificationsThe only home care software provider with HITRUST CSF certification 2020 Category Leader in Home Health Software by Get App 2019 Best in KLAS 

As the given comparison suggests, in-home care solutions vary when it comes to pricing models, target audiences, functions, and other aspects. Let’s look at the pros and cons of out-of-the-box in-home care apps. 

Pros

  • Quick installation. This type of software is usually easy to set up, so you can get started quickly.
  • Low upfront costs. There’s not as much cost involved initially since it’s a generic solution.
  • Try before you buy. You’ll likely be able to access trial periods where you can test these systems beforehand and see if they work.

Cons

  • Little flexibility. If you’re looking to add custom features and have specific requests, they probably won’t be implemented since the software is built for a broader market.
  • Long-term fees. While the upfront cost is usually low for these software types, the long-term price ends up being expensive. Tiered pricing may cost more as the number of users grows.
  • Additional payments for customizations. While some platforms do offer customizations, they often come at a price. Adding integrations can be costly, and while it’s easy to pay for one or two features here and there, that cost quickly adds up if you spot an additional need for change.
  • Compatibility issues. It’s often challenging to integrate the existing systems with new ones, especially if there’s little room for customizations.
  • Your competitors are using the same software. Using off-the-shelf software doesn’t give you a competitive advantage. Other players in your industry are likely to use it too. There’s also the risk of not owning your data, as vendors will probably want to store it themselves, which can be risky.

On the one hand, you’ll have to work with what’s there, which is often tricky if you have unique workflows or a specific paperless workflow you want to follow. On the other hand, the market is diverse and keeps growing, meaning that chances to find a suitable solution are quite high. 

Given that, you have two options: find a suitable option from what’s available on the market or build a custom solution with a software development partner. Is the second option even worth the effort? Let’s see. 

Custom software

With custom in-home caregiving software solution development, you’re in the driver’s seat. You’ll be working with a team of engineers who cooperate with you closely to understand what features are important to you and your business. This helps them create software that matches your requirements from the ground up.

Pros

  • Increased flexibility. You can remove and add features as needed, which brings numerous opportunities and gives you the freedom to operate more efficiently than competitors without them having access to the same system.
  • Easily modified. As your business grows and expands, you may want to add new functions or test new features. Instead of having to wait months for vendor approval (if ever), you can avoid that runaround and go directly to your development team. Quickly add new features without needing to jump through hoops.
  • Strong competitive advantage. By developing a long-term care software solution for seniors, you are immediately setting yourself apart from competitors. You can build client loyalty and increase employee retention by using relevant digital products that fit your and their needs perfectly. You can build new products, introduce new services, and create opportunities to scale. 

Cons

  • Higher upfront investment. The investment in a custom solution can often be off-putting. For example, to develop an in-home care MVP from scratch, you’ll need to pay between $50,000 and $80,000. The price of a full-fledged product that covers all processes in your in-home care business might exceed $150,000. 
  • Slower to develop. Custom solutions can’t be built overnight. There’s a lot of development and testing involved in developing an elderly care system, which takes more time. Depending on the solution, it can take anywhere from two to eight months to receive the product’s first working version. The development process is often hindered because of unclear expectations or a lack of involvement, so expect to invest your time into the process.
  • You may be dependent on the custom software provider. Before starting any development, it’s essential to sit down with the software providers and hammer out the terms and conditions. Agreements need to be signed before any actual development on both ends. This will include clauses around intellectual property, specifically that it belongs to your company. It should also lay out the developers’ responsibilities and codebase transfer if you decide to switch providers.

What should you choose? 

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. If you’re completely at a loss, here are some clues for you.

Go for an off-the-shelf solution if:

  • It meets at least 80% of your needs
  • You’re not entirely sure what features you might need and want to give the solution a try before committing to building custom software
  • You need to use a system ASAP and don’t require as much customization

Consider building a custom platform for senior care business if:

  • You have unique workflows that require features out-of-the-box solutions don’t provide
  • You’re anticipating rapid scale-ups and require a more complex system that allows adding extensions and making changes
  • You need to integrate with third-party systems 
  • You’re considering transforming your system into a SaaS that can be licensed and sold to other businesses

Migration considerations

What if you decided to migrate from one solution to another one? Here are some thoughts: 

  • Migrate in a module-by-module manner
  • Migration is not just about switching one solution to another. The process involves training your staff, which can take a while depending on your company size. This is why we strongly recommend migrating to a solution similar to your previous one (if possible).
  • If both solutions are custom ones, involve developers from both sides.

Final thoughts

Yes, there’s a lot to consider. But it’s clear that a home care software solution isn’t just a nice-to-have frill. 

Here’s what Ivan Dunskiy, founder and CEO of Demigos, has to say on the subject:

“A reliable software system for home care business can improve customer experience and increase the efficiency of caregivers drastically. But when it comes to choosing between a custom or off-the-shelf solution, it depends on your individual business needs.”

Regardless if you choose a custom or out-of-the-box solution, we hope this article helped you make an informed decision.  

About Demigos

Demigos is a software development company that builds custom IT solutions for healthcare startups and mature companies.

Demigos has a track record of more than 40 projects developed for clients from North America and Europe. They build solutions that help find care for seniors, staffing platforms for healthcare workers, mHealth apps, and patient engagement platforms. Demigos’ portfolio covers easily scalable, secure solutions that are compliant with HIPAA and GDPR.

The company was awarded by Clutch in the creative and design categories, and their solutions were highly praised after external security and code quality audits.

Read more about Demigos’ expertise in AgeTech here

About Ivan Dunskiy – CEO at Demigos

Ivan has been working in the tech industry for more than ten years as a quality assurance engineer, mobile software developer, and product manager. Co-founder of two startups.

SOURCE: https://www.thegerontechnologist.com/software-for-home-care-businesses-advantages-users-features-and-options/

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