Salesforce and the Emerging Trends in the Home Health space
Over the last several weeks I have been talking to healthcare leaders in the at-home care space, specifically Home Health, Home Care, Hospice, and Palliative Care. I asked them several questions about their challenges, opportunities, and the trends that they are closely watching. I also asked them where they are successfully leveraging Salesforce, and where it has fallen short.
There are constant pressures from payers to reduce hospitalizations, thereby reducing costs while improving patient care. Value-based care is gaining momentum, with Medicare Advantage which is built on the value care model, soon catching up to its predecessor Medicare (fee-for-service). According to an article by Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2022 nearly half (48% or 28.4 million) of the Medicare enrollees (58.6 million) were enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. Combining this with the aging population in the US, and the desire for the elderly to stay at home as long as possible, it creates a great opportunity for leveraging technology to help transform the at-home care space, which has traditionally lagged behind the rest of the sector.
How are providers in the at-home care space leveraging Salesforce?
- Patient Acquisition and Referral Management: It wasn’t surprising to hear that many of the folks I spoke to are using Salesforce to track patient referrals which equates to Sales in the healthcare world. An incoming referral may be tracked as a lead, that may be converted into a patient, and a patient opportunity. Some are taking this a step further and using it to manage provider relationships (they refer patients to home health and related modalities), which also seems to be a natural fit for a tool like Salesforce.
- Data integration: There was consensus that EHRs are not a good place for storing data coming from other functions in a company, such as Sales or HR. They are also not easy to integrate. This is where these agencies find Salesforce to be of great value because it is easy to customize, secure, cloud-based, and has well-documented data models and APIs.
- Care Coordination: Most care teams find their EHR to be inadequate when it comes to coordinating care. I spoke to a Physician who works at a large government hospital (not Home Health), and this is the example she gave me of what she does in their EMR when she needs to pull in another team member. Last week her patient needed a ride. She called the Care Manager, and the Care Manager contacted the social worker who arranged the ride. She mentioned that while she can see different team members listed in her EHR on a separate tab, she can’t view their actions taken to assist the patient. In the above example, the social worker added a note in the chart, but it is not easily visible to others. Salesforce Health Cloud has a strong Care Team module to help various services (clinical and non-clinical) collaborate around patient care.
- Key Metrics (KPI) Dashboards: Operational leaders, pre-Salesforce, saw themselves spending a lot of time manually gathering data from various systems, and updating spreadsheets monthly or quarterly to generate the necessary reports. Sometimes each team lead would have their own spreadsheet. This problem was further magnified for leaders that are responsible for managing the performance of multiple regional or national practices. They found it extremely useful to have all their metrics in one place in a Salesforce dashboard, accessible to their teams and their leadership in real time. Also, since reporting in Salesforce does not need a special skill such as learning SQL, they feel empowered to create their own reports and dashboards.
- Census Management: Census is an important metric in at-home care, however, I was told that it takes on a more significant role for Hospice providers because they are paid a daily rate for a patient in their care. One national provider that I spoke to who offers Palliative Care is using Salesforce to manage their census and finds it extremely helpful.
There are many other topics that came up during our conversation such as staffing shortages which seem to be one of the biggest obstacles to growing a Home Health practice. It also creates new challenges for leadership as well as opportunities in hiring and retaining home health nurses and home care staff. Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement (QAPI) is another topic that I found quite interesting, especially since it involves data! I may write about it in another blog post.
If I missed some key areas where healthcare providers, especially in the home health space are leveraging Salesforce, please leave a comment. Please also share if you’d like to hear more about a particular topic in the blog.
Sandeep Banga, CEO and Founder, Acutedge