Emerging Role of Tablets in Home Health

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By Jennifer Van Winkle 
Clinical Product Manager, Change Healthcare
Emerging Role of Tablets in Home Health

While the laptop long has been the de facto field device used by home care clinicians and therapists, the importance of tablets as companion devices is growing. The advantages of tablets versus laptops designed for field work include lower acquisition costs, easier access, longer battery life, lighter weight and durability.

Tablet use is growing

A 2016 survey of 751 home care organizations by Fazzi Associates showed that the use of tablets/iPads® rose sharply from the 2013-14 survey, growing from 27% to nearly 50%. The survey also noted that the speed of technology adoption among users can vary widely and that the type of technology being adopted plays a role.

The ubiquitous nature of smart phones is good news for organizations that want to use tablets, because workers already are familiar with the technology. Pew Research Center indicates that 77% of Americans own a smart phone. That number rises to 92% among 18- to 29-year-olds.

Implications for home health

Change Healthcare interviews with organizations that use tablets demonstrate benefits of tablets as a companion device to provide information about patients. Organizations are looking for an intuitive, easy to train solution for the field clinician that is compliant and supports multiple use cases on a device that has all the attributes of the iPad.

By using the tablet as a companion device, clinicians can access the device outside of a patient visit for quick patient information or schedule review, or they can share the device with the patient to review signature forms or education materials while still using the laptop to document the visit.

A tablet/iPad as a companion device can provide added value through:

  • Ease of access
  • Ease of use – intuitive user interface
  • Providing companion functions such as visit planning, signature forms, patient information, patient image capture and education material

Minimum functionality for tablets

Lighter weight, less cost, improved battery life, durability and ease of access while on the go are a few of the many benefits of a companion tablet device for many home care organizations. At a minimum, a tablet application for home health and hospice clinicians should be equipped with patient profile information, signature forms, patient images for ID purposes and relevant searches, and calculations related to that day’s visit.

  • Patient profile information would include the “Need to Know to Visit” information, such as environmental concerns, standard precautions and other important notes. This would include the “Plan for Next Visit” documentation that is associated to a seven-day view of the employee schedule.
  • Automating consents and acknowledgment completion would not only save paper, it would save time and allow for the capture of discrete data on signature forms. Completing the signature form on a companion tablet device would allow the patient to review and sign these forms while the clinician is able to continue to use the laptop.
  • Patient image capture allows clinicians to compare patient images to patients to help ensure the correct person is receiving treatment. This is especially useful for initial visits and occasions when care occurs in communal post-acute care settings such as a hospice home.
  • Clinicians may rely on clinical reference data from a web search that could be accessible on the tablet. When the tablet is a companion device, it would be beneficial to have these references open to view while the nurse is documenting the visit on the laptop or even to be used by the patient to review education materials.

Contact Change Healthcare (formerly McKesson) to learn more about our new tablet solution for clinicians.

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