Home health care faces its unique challenges because, unlike other forms of professional medical care, it’s primarily performed in the privacy of people’s homes. Texting, like home health, is personal and helps home health businesses coordinate with multiple parties, like its staff, clients, and clients’ families. We’ll cover the different challenges home health care businesses face and how business texting can help solve those challenges for smoother operations and a better experience for everyone involved.
Challenges home health businesses face
Home health care, also known as home health or home care, encompasses any professional support service that allows individuals to live safely at home while receiving care. Some of these services range from at-home physical therapy and dialysis to delivering groceries or prescriptions directly to patients’ doors. While it’s technically under the healthcare umbrella, home health care businesses have specific problems because they’re operating out of the privacy of a patient’s home and have to coordinate communication with multiple people.
Some common problems home health businesses face include:
- Poor communication with internal and external parties
- Dealing with Medicaid and outstanding payments
- High turnover rates
With business texting, home health businesses can easily communicate internally with staff to align communication and externally with patients and caregivers to ensure expectations are clear and the patient’s needs are met. Because texting is native in patients’ phones, it’s easier for seniors or those with disabilities to navigate, unlike other healthcare systems that can be complex for patients to learn or navigate.
Studies show that 70 percent of adults 50-plus own a smartphone. Among those aged 50 to 69, text messaging has overtaken email as the communication tool most used to stay connected.
7 ways to use business texting to improve your home health business:
Let’s cover the different ways to use texting to solve some common problems in the home health industry.
1. On-demand care
On-demand care requires real-time communication, which is exactly what texting offers. Patients can text follow-up questions after an appointment to clarify any issues regarding their care. Texting is a two-way channel that allows home health care providers to communicate with patients and vice-versa quickly. The average text has a response time of 90 seconds. Likewise, providers can text information after services are provided so the patient can refer to it as needed. For non-emergency support, patients can reach out to agents for help. Patients and agents can also send images or videos using MMS for more precise communication.
2. Align external communications
Some patients aren’t directly communicating with a home health business; sometimes, they have their loved ones speak for them. Communicating with multiple people can be difficult, but you can save time by giving each person real-time updates via text, such as scheduling appointments, relaying information, or answering any questions. Textline customers can store their contacts in an address book and save conversations to reference quickly. So even if a different agent communicates with a patient’s caretaker, they can hop in and read prior conversations to assist the customer better and align communication.
3. Centralize internal communication
Home health businesses can also use texting for meaningful internal conversations. Home health businesses can stay in touch with their agents via text to share a patient’s address or forward concerns — similar to a dispatcher. With texting software like Textline, companies don’t have to worry about conversations being isolated in an employee’s phone. Any agent can jump in and handle an exchange, or pass them off for help when needed, so the burden isn’t on one agent.
4. Employee recruiting and retention
Home health businesses want to have the best caregivers on their staff. Home healthcare businesses can keep a pulse check on their team with business texting to ensure that they have all the information and resources they need to do their job. Constantly checking in with agents via text, and allowing them to reach out to you, increases the likelihood of them staying because they feel like they’re a priority for the company. Remember, a good employee experience makes for a good customer experience.
5. Manage contactless deliveries
If your home health business involves running errands for patients, you can use texting to communicate contactless deliveries. You can update patients on their orders, ask clarifying questions, or text them when their order has been delivered. Agents can use texting while running errands at the store or for picking up prescriptions. Because texts have a 90-second response rate, they’re better to use while on the go than constant phone calls, which can slow agents down or be disruptive.
6. Secure conversations with HIPAA-compliance
Cybersecurity is a massive issue for the healthcare industry. Healthcare businesses are dealing with confidential patient information that can compromise their identity. To avoid liability and protect their customers, Textline users opt to use our HIPAA plan to ensure that messages sent between providers and their users are secure and protected. The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3, 2018 Internet Crime Report shows that people 60 and older submitted more than 62,000 fraud complaints in 2018 with losses totaling close to $650 million, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. Having a HIPAA-compliant texting system will add credibility to your business and make your patients feel more comfortable using your services.
Home health businesses can be either medical or non-medical. For example, in-house nurses are considered medical, whereas those who run errands, like buying groceries, for a patient are considered non-medical. If you’re unsure if you require HIPAA-compliance, it’s best to air on the side of caution. Even if you aren’t talking to patients about their medical needs, you can run the risk of violating HIPAA if they reach out to you first with medical-related questions. You can learn more about HIPAA here.
7. Billing and collections
Payment is a significant problem for home health businesses and just the healthcare industry in general. Most doctors don’t accept Medicare because it pays only 80 percent of what private insurance pays. Most home health businesses, though, accept Medicare since at-home care can be expensive. Communicating between Medicare and patients can be troublesome, causing payment to be delayed or never received. Business texting makes it easier for home health businesses to deliver Medicare updates to patients and share any outstanding payments, including payment links and reminders.
The bottom line
Home healthcare is an industry that requires clear and constant communication. Business texting is a great tool to incorporate in these types of businesses because it’s not disruptive, seamlessly fits into existing workflows, and is native to patient’s phones.