How Virtual Care and Communication Can Be A Competitive Advantage

senior asian man using Synzi platform on a tablet computer

Understanding the Competitive Environment
Home health agencies are facing increasing competitive pressures in attracting patients and appealing to referral sources.  Agencies are also recalibrating the appropriate mix of institutional vs. community referral partners as PDGM changes the way referrals impact an agency’s financials.  Agencies which can demonstrate improved outcomes (including a reduction in rehospitalizations) are able to position themselves as caring, results-oriented clinicians with patients, their families, and the referral sources – including the institutional settings which will pay more due to a higher case mix weight.  These data-driven agencies are also more likely to attract staff from other agencies within a competitive region.

Using a virtual care communication platform reinforces an agency’s dedication to clinical excellence:

  • With the platform, clinicians can help reduce readmissions by using technology to treat patients in place – the patient’s home – without always needing to be in-person for a patient visit.
  • Additional staff and specialists can also participate in the virtual visit to ensure that the patient is receiving the care needed without requiring a transfer back to the hospital or a nurse home visit on-demand.
  • Remote family members can participate virtually in video-based visits to remain informed about their loved one’s care plan.

Synzi’s virtual care platform can drive the collaboration and provide the data necessary for optimal patient care.  Sarah Walmsley, national director of strategic partnerships at Bayada Home Health Care, recently shared that “quality assurance measures must be established for a collaborative care model to work… Outcome data should be shared and discussed monthly [with referral sources] to identify if hospitalizations could have been prevented and to put in interventions to prevent future issues.”

Role of Patient Communication
Family caregivers also use the HHCAHPS Survey star ratings on Home Health Compare to make more informed decisions when selecting a home health agency for their loved one.   Patient communication is a key element of the HHCAHPS assessments.  When patients are surveyed about their communications with home health providers, patients are asked if their home health care team members:

  • Set appropriate expectations
  • Asked about the patient’s medications
  • Listened to the patient
  • Treated the patient with respect
  • Managed patient pain

A virtual care platform that enables ongoing patient communication can help agencies achieve better outcomes for their patients, higher survey scores, and greater referrals vs. competitors.  Synzi’s platform provides the agency with multiple opportunities to engage the patient and address any emerging communication and care concerns, prior to the patient completing the HHCAHPS surveys:

  • Before the initial at-home visit, an agency’s clinician can introduce himself/herself to the patient and set expectations for the episode of care. This virtual introduction helps drive a smoother transition from inpatient to outpatient.
  • During the episode of care, an agency administrator can schedule a series of email or text messages which guide the patient to better adherence, diet and lifestyle changes, and required immunizations. The cascade of educational messages and appointment reminders demonstrates that an agency is expressing concern for the patient’s well-being throughout the episode of care.

The resulting star ratings are used by agencies in their marketing materials to reinforce their leadership position in competitive markets.  The ratings also inspire home health agencies to improve quality of care and the patient experience.  By offering virtual care via the Synzi platform, agencies are able to show their commitment to better patient communication and care.

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