Healthcare is constantly moving at a high rate of speed. In order to keep up, providers and clinicians need to consider and adopt the best processes and workflows to provide top-notch services. When providers are spending more time on recordkeeping and analysis, it doesn’t leave them with as much time to do what they do best – provide care. Enter technology and its ability to streamline operations and enrich services. Read on as Netsmart Senior Director Andrew Mersman gives us a quick glimpse into the role technology can play for autism care providers.

What is a typical “day in the life of” an autism provider?

The overall goal of an autism provider is to help empower a person to develop necessary skills to improve the quality of their day-to-day life, including interactions with others. The support provided to a person can look different for many different reasons such as the individual provider and their choice of care model, differences in the population being served (children vs. adults) and the care setting (community-based vs. office centered-based). A common thread in providing the best support and care to those diagnosed with autism lies in the importance of collecting and analyzing a large amount of data, which allows clinicians to pivot their actions if needed. Quite often, this leads to creating challenges for providers.

What is the biggest challenge facing autism providers today?

There are different challenges for autism providers, but one that stands out is the ability to have an efficient electronic data collection process that allows for robust reporting and trending of an individual’s responses to stimuli. Clinicians are awesome at seeing no walls and thinking of creative ways to track the necessary data that they need to collect because technology, until recently, had not caught up to where it should be to allow it to be included at the point of care. Historically – and some still do – providers tracked data on paper and sometimes used a software program that did not connect to their agency’s EHR, which is their source of truth. These actions can have downstream effects such as causing additional manual work for providers by re-entering data into programs that will give them the analysis they need. Additionally, because the data may not be tracked in a central EHR, it is separate from the rest of the organization’s dataset. Overall, it creates more time to be devoted to data and less on providing care.

How can technology help solve these challenges?

With the advancement of mobile tablets and apps that allow for more tailored role-based data collection processes, technology can now be paired with a clinician and be a valuable instrument in providing services. Technology is now also allowing families to communicate more efficiently with care teams and has a greater role in driving home concepts with the person being served such as using tablets to help reinforce new concepts and behaviors.