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Play it Up: Scheduling’s Role in Improving Private Duty Care

Doing more with less has become something of a mantra in healthcare. For those involved with private duty nursing, doing more with less is just the tip of the iceberg, say Shallina Bowers, executive director, HealthCare Services, and Wes McGuirk, regional director, at Oxford HealthCare, Springfield, Mo.

Schedulings-role-in-private-duty-care-300x200Bowers and McGuirk led a session during the 2014 McKesson Homecare & Hospice National Users’ Conference on how to help drive business through effective private duty scheduling.

Two main factors are driving change for private duty organizations: client expectations and increasingly complex scheduling. Our aging population (a 135% increase in adults aged 75 or older from 1950 to 2050, according to the Census Bureau) means private duty services are in demand and likely to become more so.

But it’s not our mother’s private duty — today’s providers face increased requirements and a more sophisticated client profile. And instead of the 48-hours-per-week average private-duty contract Oxford HealthCare saw in 2005, today’s patient wants around 16 hours per week, making scheduling a critical function for providers.

Fortunately, advanced home care scheduling software can expedite today’s private-duty administration, helping to improve customer service, eliminate scheduling errors and streamline the billing process. It’s also a terrific way to help differentiate your offering from your competitors.

Before and after
In the past, private duty involved:

  • Mainly private-pay patients
  • Few regulatory requirements
  • Mainly nursing functions

In contrast, today’s private duty often involves:

  • Multiple payers for the same visit
  • Requirements that vary by payer
  • Varied services (everything from babysitting and housekeeping to personal care aide services and nursing services)

Keeping track of scheduling, billing and payroll in this constantly changing landscape can be a daunting task. Not to mention clients who expect to receive precisely the service they contracted for (and don’t want to track what was provided when) and employees who need immediate notification of schedule changes and want control over where and when they work.

Clearly, today’s private-duty managers need all the help they can get. Bowers and McGuirk say they need sophisticated features like those in the home care scheduling functionality of McKesson Homecare™:

  • Incentives promised to the employee can be built directly onto the schedule
  • Notes for employee performance can be documented and used at evaluation meetings
  • Single visits involving multiple payers can be built on the same episode
  • Education can be built directly into employee schedules so they don’t miss it
  • Education can be assigned, completed and tracked from within the system
  • Sharing of employees across business lines can be simplified
  • Nurse care managers can easily see which tasks still need to be performed and quickly change patient care plans as needed

A game changer
Solving your home care scheduling issues does more than just help you gain efficiencies — it gives you a way to set your agency above the competition. Instead of tired marketing campaigns touting “compassionate care” and “leadership in the industry,” you can talk about real benefits.

For example, Bowers and McGuirk say that better scheduling and tracking means patients don’t have to worry about policing their private-duty appointments. Instead, they’ll see high service levels, prompt visits, staff changes kept to a minimum for better continuity of care, and a seamless process with no scheduling errors or billing issues.

You’ve got a great story to tell employees as well, including having the information they need at their fingertips and a work schedule that reflects their preferences for geographic areas and times of the day. They’ll also be able to easily understand their paycheck so they can match it with their records.

Bowers and McGuirk say that you’ll soon be going beyond doing more with less. You’ll be successfully doing better with less and creating satisfied clients along the way.

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