The importance of improving the interoperability between home care operators and the allied and clinical health care sector

home care

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More and more Australians are selecting to have support delivered to them in their home — enjoying the quality of life improvements to be found in remaining connected to the friends, families and communities they love. 

Today’s home care customer wants to see more communication, trust, empathy and assistance in navigating an increasingly complex health care system. 

Recommendation 36 of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety final report signposts an increased focus on all home care providers’ ability to provide access to appropriate allied health care for their customers. The report also calls for improved data sharing between services and levels of healthcare.

In this environment, it becomes increasingly important that home care operators can connect their customers to the clinical and allied health sector in a seamless, world class fashion. 

The Lookout Way team has embraced the challenge by focusing on developing world class clinical referral functionality in consultation with home care, allied health and clinical care operators.

As part of the development of a solution for their software platform Lookout, chief technology officer Tate Johnson first focused on the sector forces and challenges at play.

“At the centre of our thinking has been the question: how do we ensure the interoperability of the home care and health care sector? How do we help the two systems talk to each other using technology?”

“We want the broader health system to be a better experience for everyone. We thought we could start with the allied health care referral process as it is something care providers are doing day in and day out presently.” 

“We came up with a referral feature that allows the technology to do what it’s good at — surfacing important data, augmenting professional skills, managing privacy and security, while ensuring those receiving home care are referred to the appropriate allied health professional. 

“It’s a referral system that means the home care and health systems can work hand in hand in a secure and sensitive manner.”

Click here to discover more about Lookout, the truly customer-focused digital care management platform.

How it is today: An outdated system 

“No one in the home care sector comes to work wanting to do a bad job.” 

“We could see that people were drowning in paperwork. When it came to referring clients to allied health professionals the lack of supporting systems just brought another layer of complexity to an already difficult task.” 

“Information was copied and pasted from care plans, word documents, emails, on paper, in notebooks and simply lived in staff’s heads. Referrals were scanned documents in an email or unwieldy template files. Often there was no way to tell if a referral had been seen once it was sent.

“We were hearing that clinicians and suppliers had the same pain points. Information was scattered between text messages, emails and PDF attachments. There was also no way to tell how many referrals had been sent and who was sending them.”

Referral experience: The home care providers perspective

Home care providers will have a range of relationships in place with partner providers across the allied health and clinical care spectrum including, podiatrists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, speech pathologists, dietitians and music or art therapists. 

But who to choose to meet a customer’s unique needs?

Lookout allows for care businesses to load their preferred allied health and other service partners into one centralised index. This index allows for verification, document tracking and categorisation so staff can easily find appropriate referral partners based on location, services delivered, internal approvals and usage history.

Once the care provider staff know what kind of support is required, Lookout can surface the appropriate partners to send an automatic referral to.

Referrals are auto-populated with key information from the clients profile and care plan. The staff member placing the referral can select what information to include or exclude, and input additional, relevant, detailed information such as key issue information, timing, contact details and budget.

Referral experience: The partner health professionals perspective

Once a referral is created and sent by the home care provider, the partner health professional then receives an email with an expiring and unguessable permalink which allows them to securely access the referral and customer summary. 

Opening the referral will trigger and require a one-time passcode as an added layer of security. 

The partner professional can view all the critical information in the referral — client goals, relevant medical history, and home support services in place, in order to get a holistic picture of the customer’s status and requirements.

The referral then allows the health professional to accept the offer, which initiates a process of providing contact details for the client, scheduling the appointment and generating a purchase order for the partner provider to bill the home care provider for the service. 

At any point the referrer can revoke permissions ensuring the privacy and security of their customers’ data.

Feedback from the frontline

Five Good Friends head of care management Tanya Cron has been utilising the new referral system and is already experiencing the benefits for both care recipients and health professionals. 

“The introduction of the new referral system is a huge time saver and provides a safe solution. We are definitely seeing better outcomes for our members and the allied health professionals we work with.”

“It is also an extremely efficient use of time for our care managers who are no longer spending time in administration but more time on ensuring our members are getting the level and type of care that they need.”

“It looks great and is incredibly user friendly. This is a massive step forward in ensuring the health and wellbeing of our clients.”

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Lookout is the first truly customer-focused digital care management platform designed and developed in Australia. Lookout was created based on the experience of operating one of the country’s fastest growing home care providers, Five Good Friends. Lookout has been designed for the post-Royal Commission into Aged Care era with customer satisfaction and health outcomes at its core.

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