Hospices Employ Screening Tools in Fight Against COVID-19 Spread

Hospices have ramped up screening procedures as the coronavirus pandemic continues sprawling across the country. Technology has played a key role in the fight against COVID-19 as new resources and methods become available to providers.

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) recently announced a partnership with Atlanta-based WellEntry to develop a health screening application aimed at preventing and mitigating the spread of infectious diseases among high-risk populations such as hospice and terminally ill patients. WellEntry was developed by 7Factor Software, a systems and software company.

“As part of our mission to promote, protect and advance the highest quality health care at home, we must do everything in our power to ensure our member organizations have every tool at their disposal to keep patients, family members, nurses and staff safe,” said NAHC President, Bill Dombi.

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As NAHC’s director of communications, Thomas Threkeld, shared with Hospice News, members who utilize the app will have access to pre-screening questionnaires that are customizable to an organization’s needs, as well as access to real-time population data on health trends among staff and patients and contact tracing capabilities with location-specific tracking features to help identify outbreak sources.

“Health screenings are a critical component of any organization’s comprehensive plan to keep their providers, patients, staff, families and guests safer while complying with both existing and emergency regulations,” 7Factor founder Jeremy Duvall told Hospice News. “7Factor Software developed WellEntry in-house as our contribution to the global effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. WellEntry empowers organizations to screen for symptoms of disease, effectively and efficiently, both on-site at facilities and remotely for in-home care. It also provides self-recorded contact tracing, to mitigate any outbreaks.”

According to Duvall, WellEntry initially reached out to NAHC to develop products and services for home health and hospice organizations. As an affinity partner of NAHC, WellEntry’s screening app is available to the association’s members as a resource to help minimize risk of exposure to COVID-19.

“Although WellEntry is designed to serve the health-screening needs of many different industries, we had a particularly deep understanding of what health care organizations would need,” Duvall said. “That’s why some of our earliest customers were home health and hospice organizations.”

Providers nationwide have geared up infection prevention protocols to face the threat of COVID-19’s spread among vulnerable patient populations and a shrinking workforce. With nursing homes taking priority to receive federal aid for testing supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE), hospices have struggled to obtain ample resources.

While the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently shipped 10 million pieces of COVID-19 testing equipment to hospices and home health providers, advocates in these settings have called for additional assistance and resource availability. NAHC is among many national associations offering increased access to screening tools. The organization’s partnership with WellEntry made the new smartphone- and tablet-based solution available to NAHC members as a tool to screen large populations for symptoms and help diminish outbreaks.

The screening app reflects a growing trend among hospice providers of embracing technology and adopting predictive analytics to track patient outcomes and those who would benefit from end-of-life care.

“The WellEntry portal gives leadership instant insights into health trends, allowing them to evaluate and adjust all their disease prevention measures based on real-time results,” said Duvall. “On the back end, WellEntry securely retains all screening data, with robust [Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA)] compliance.”

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