We love when our clients stop by and share insight and feedback with our associates. Recently, Steve Gillies, COO of Harry Hynes Memorial Hospice, Dr. Joe Spurlock, CMO of Harry Hynes Memorial Hospice, Mary Lynn Thomas, CFO of KidsTLC and Tom Petrizzo, CEO of Tri-County Mental Health Services  came by to chat during one of our leadership development classes. Carol Reynolds, EVP of client experience at Netsmart moderated the discussion, which centered around the unique challenges each organization faces and how technology can help overcome those obstacles.

Steve Gillies: One of the biggest challenges facing the homecare and hospice industry today is recruiting and retaining quality staff. Our team is passionate and compassionate about helping people and their families make a difficult transition. That’s why they got into this field to begin with. They don’t want to spend their days dealing with technology that doesn’t work or that makes their workflows more complicated. I challenge our team every day to think about how we can improve our operations and the effectiveness of the care we provide. How are we getting better every single day? One way that we can help them is by providing our staff with technology that allows them to document as efficiently as possible.

The other issue is regulations. They seem to change on a daily basis. My staff wants to focus on caring for our patients and their families, and they don’t want to have to worry about regulatory requirements. I think it’s important to partner with a technology company that can be the experts in technology and regulations so that we don’t have to. I believe we’ve found that in our partnership with Netsmart.

Dr. Joe Spurlock: A big buzz word now is “value-based care.” I consider hospice to be the original, completely risk-based and prospective-based payment model. We are completely at risk for the cost of care, so we’ve gotten exceptionally good at preventing readmissions. In a fee-for-service model, doctors and providers are in a position of weakness by relying on the least efficient way to provide care that is driven through a financial model. Because we’ve been practicing a risk-based system for decades, we believe we have the secret sauce for avoiding hospital readmissions.

As Steve mentioned, regulatory compliance is a challenge every day. We don’t do it because we want to, we do it because we have to. As we transition into value-based care, the industry is trying to catch up with itself and make us all better clinicians by integrating financial, operational and clinical workflows. Regulations aren’t usually passed down efficiently, so having software like the Netsmart EHR that integrates all aspects of healthcare benefits our patients, providers and business

Mary Lynn Thomas: Recruitment and retention of quality staff is probably our number one challenge. Our staff to consumer ratio is three to one; with autism it is a one to one. Training new staff is expensive, so we have to find ways to empower our staff to be more efficient and effective with the services they are providing. We have more than 80 kids on our waiting list, and we are constantly dealing with the bureaucracy that is insurance and authorization. Our staff is there to provide the best care they can, but the industry also expects them to be experts at technology, legislative issues and regulations. If we didn’t have technology to make things like documentation and access to information easier, we would have a lot more turnover in our staff, ultimately resulting in more costs and less care.

Tom Petrizzo: I would echo Mary Lynn’s comments. There is a significant shortage of psychiatrists in the workforce. It has always been a challenge to not only find quality, licensed and experienced clinical staff, but to retain them. Telehealth (the ability to treat people using a computer or video screen) has been a great help to us, and we’re closely monitoring its evolution. Telepsychiatry or telecounseling (seeing a psychiatrist or counselor by video) are certainly the future of behavioral health. Technology’s role in making our staff more accessible and efficient has positive effects on patient outcomes and on our business.