Hospice providers have increasingly turned to technology to connect with hard-to-reach patients, streamline back-office functions and stay ahead of the curve on worsening health conditions. Many operators have likewise leveraged tech to better engage employees in hopes of stronger recruitment and retention.
The year ahead is likely to bring significantly more technology investment as well, the 2023 Hospice News Outlook Survey and Report suggests. The report – produced in collaboration with Homecare Homebase and released earlier this month – is based on an online survey of nearly 330 hospice professionals.
More than anything, the need to improve staff engagement and satisfaction will drive tech investments in 2023, with changing payment models, regulatory dynamics and referral partnerships also being motivations.
There are plenty of examples of hospice operators already opening up their wallets for game-changing technologies.
Illinois-based Transitions Hospice, for example, launched a remote patient monitoring program in 2021 to better observe changes in patients’ conditions. Transitions is a portfolio company of Transitions Group, which also operates skilled nursing and home health service lines, among others.
“Depending on the need, our care team will go out to the patient’s place of residence and do an onsite assessment that could also include a telehealth visit with a nurse practitioner or physician,” Transitions Home Medical Group President Trish Benson previously told Hospice News. “This has really helped the patients feel at ease and reduce a lot of those unnecessary emergency department visits and rehospitalizations.”
In another example, Hospice Care of South Carolina has been using predictive analytics to risk-stratify patients since at least 2020.
Meanwhile, to keep patients connected during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care launched a video-chat platform for patients in long-term care settings.
“Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for our nurses to connect their hospice and palliative care patients, living in long-term care facilities, with their families,” Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care founder and CEO Perry Farmer said at the time.
And on the workforce front, California-headquartered Silverado Hospice in 2022 unveiled plans to launch an AI tracking system for finding the best job candidates earlier in the hiring process.
As far as return on investment goes, the bulk of survey respondents said predictive analytics offers the highest ROI (21%), with staff training technology a close second (20%).
When asked which areas offer hospice operators the greatest chance for cutting costs in 2023, about 4 in 10 respondents identified “agency processes optimization and automation.” Just under one-quarter of the respondents said staffing-related technology offers operators the greatest opportunity to trim spending.
While hospice operators are ready to bet on technology, it’s important to note that many are hamstrung by rising labor costs, inflation and other macro-economic factors. If hospice margins shrink further, organizations will likely have less wiggle room to explore technology – even if it’s a priority for them.