The emergence of home healthcare as an industry could be attributed to the growth of modern communication technology. As the term indicates, the concept refers to patients’ scope for getting quality care within their own comfort zone. Healthcare organizations today strive to meet customer requirements in this regard considering the growing completion and changing customer choices alike. Hence, innovations are likely that can enhance the quality of overall care provided. This paper will closely examine the implementation of home healthcare applications by Florida hospital. This will also give specific focus to the aspects like organization information, information system application design and development, and innovative aspects of the system.
The emergence of a wide range of healthcare applications has increased the scope of home healthcare. This has evidently enhanced individuals’ ability to recover in the comfort of their own homes. Evidences suggest that the concept of home health service can accelerate the healing process as a whole. When an individual takes advantages of the facilities provided under home health services, he is able to enjoy the presence of his family members throughout the healing process. Psychological practitioners indicate that proper care and support of the family members can significantly enhance the process of patient recovery. In this context, hospitals and other healthcare organizations make extensive arrangements for delivering quality home health services to their clients.
3. Organization Information
3.1 Home healthcare applications in Florida hospital
Home healthcare applications constitute an important area of health information technology system and have become an inevitable part of the modern healthcare. With the fast advancements in information technology, today patients obtain an extensive exposure to recover in the comfort of their own home using home healthcare applications. In response to this changing healthcare scenario, currently hospitals and other health institutions invest heavily in designing and implementing home healthcare applications like pain assessment system so as to enhance patient outcomes.
Home healthcare applications assist patients to obtain deep understanding of their health condition and to be increasingly responsive to the treatment process. Currently, majority of the home healthcare applications can be accessed using a smartphone, which is now affordable to all classes of people. As a result, the number of people using home healthcare applications has notably increased today. The Florida hospital has been providing home health services for more than 25 years so as to allow patients recover in the comfort of their homes. The hospital pays particular attention to promoting the independence and personalized attention for the patients in order to maintain the quality of its services. The organization enhances the effectiveness of home healthcare applications through education and treatment paying close attention to patients’ individualized needs. Florida hospital’s professional home healthcare team is supported by a registered nurse whose services are available 24 hours a day. During the process of treatment through home healthcare application, the physician concerned is kept informed of the progress of his patient so that he can make necessary adjustments to the treatment plan whenever is necessary. The major benefits of the home healthcare applications offered by the Florida hospital include a ‘shorter hospital stay, fast recovery, cost affordability, privacy, individualized education, and personal attention’ (Florida hospital).
3.2 Scope of home healthcare applications in the hospital
While analyzing the home healthcare applications offered by the Florida hospital, it seems that majority of those applications are clinical, educational, and research-related. To illustrate, the major goal of those applications is to meet the clinical needs of patients including quality care and quick recovery. In addition, the hospital management gives particular emphasis to patient education so as to enhance the effectiveness and outcomes of its home healthcare services. The organization also closely monitors the working of its home healthcare applications with intent to identify the areas of improvement and to enhance efficiency of its home-based health services on a continuous-flow basis. There are many reasons that convinced Florida hospital to develop home healthcare system for its patients. The major objective of home healthcare applications is to help patients live with greater independence and to avoid hospitalization to long-term care facilities (Ellenbecker Samia, Cushman & Alster, 2008). In addition, Florida hospital management claims that home healthcare can increase the patient’s level of well-being and allow him to recover in the comfort of his own home. The hospital also considers some recent poll results, which clearly indicate that American senior citizens overwhelmingly favor home healthcare services (PR Newswire, 2013). From those polls, the hospital management has recognized growing importance of home healthcare in the modern world. Studies also indicate that providing home healthcare can be a great strategy to improve the mental health of patients. In the view of Croghan and Brown (2010), when patients are allowed to recover in the presence of their family members, it will positively influence their mental health and which in turn is a major factor influencing patient recovery. The organization strongly believes that offering a combination of home health, hospice care, palliative care, and many other health services is a better way to enhance care quality and patient safety.
As discussed already, the Florida hospital has been delivering home healthcare services to tens of thousands of patients for more than 25 years. Therefore, the organization has great expertise in home healthcare applications, and hence it can verify whether those applications are capable of meeting its predetermined needs. In addition, the hospital researches the cases of other health organizations that have implemented similar home healthcare applications in their facilities. The management of home healthcare applications in the Florida hospital is vested with the health information technology (HIT) wing of the organization. It is located in the top of the organization’s administrative structure because home healthcare applications are expected to determine the success of a hospital’s operations in the future. The organization seeks professional assistance of outside personnel to enhance the quality of its home health services so as to be an innovation leader in the industry.
4. Information System Application Design and Development
4.1 Stakeholder involvement
Undoubtedly, active and collaborative involvement of different stakeholder groups is vital to provide high quality home healthcare to patients (Carver & Jessie, 2011). It is relevant to consider the pain assessment system here, for example, as a home healthcare application to identify the scope of involvement of different stakeholders. As Lind (2006) points out, generally, a pain assessment application works using pain dairy, digital pen, and mobile internet technology. This home healthcare technology was developed through a ‘qualitative content analysis approach’. Under this approach, palliative cancer patients and professional caregivers participated as stakeholders. Using an ease-of-use questionnaire, data were collected from patients, their spouses, and caregivers (Lind). The active participation of these stakeholder groups was really helpful to develop the pain assessment application in such a way to promote patient safety and other patient outcomes.
The organization has developed advanced software-based mechanisms to gather patient feedbacks concerning the performance of its different home healthcare applications. This practice really assists the hospital management to identify and resolve the flaws in its home healthcare applications timely and effectively and thereby enhances quality of care to the maximum extent. For the effective delivery of home healthcare services, the organization fosters the participation of a broad group of stakeholders including physicians, therapists, psychologists, other medical professionals, and technical support staff. The management is of the view that collaborative efforts from these stakeholder groups can assist the organization to deliver superior home healthcare services to patients.
Another potential feature of Florida hospital’s home healthcare system is that it extensively promotes the involvement of end users in the development of home healthcare applications. Since patients are the ultimate beneficiaries of home healthcare applications, the hospital management ensures that individual patients have the platform to express their opinions and suggestions regarding the performance of home healthcare applications. The greater patient participation helps the hospital management to develop customized home healthcare applications that can deliver enhanced patient outcomes.
4.2 Training and security
It is obvious that home healthcare applications are based increasingly on information and communication technologies and therefore it is vital for different stakeholder groups to develop great understanding of the functions of various applications. For this, Florida hospital management pays particular attention to training caregivers and patients on the use of different home healthcare applications. The hospital management provides specialized training in home healthcare to registered nurses who are expected to be available for a visit or phone consultation 24 hours a day. In addition, the physicians concerned are trained specifically to make real time responses to current patient health conditions. In Florida Hospital Tampa, the clinical team has been trained by the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute to meet the needs of patients undergoing home healthcare (Florida Hospital Tampa). In addition, Florida hospital offers training facilities to patients to be conversant with the operation of home healthcare applications they use. This practice would really assist individual patients to be aware of the particular home healthcare application and to communicate their changing health status to the physician in the real time.
Evidently, the health information technology gives particular emphasis to the confidentiality of patient information because it is legally and ethically wrong to allow outside people to access private information of patients. Hence, the hospital focuses particularly on security aspects of their home healthcare applications. Since those applications rely greatly on internet technologies, they are increasingly susceptible to hacking and other malware attacks. In an attempt to manage such vulnerable circumstances, the organization periodically updates its software and firewalls. In addition, the organization maintains an expert IT team to address technical flaws instantly and hence to enhance security of confidential patient information. These extensive efforts to promote the privacy of patient data/information support a legally sound health record.
4.3 Financial aspects
Admittedly, huge financial resources are needed for the development and maintenance of home healthcare applications. The Florida hospital has special reserves for the development and implementation of such applications. It is important to note that the initial funds for these home healthcare applications come from the hospital’s reserve funds specifically maintained for this purpose. In its each year’s budget, the organization’s top management makes provisions for the promotion and updation of home healthcare applications considering the growing popularity of such applications. In addition, this acute-care facility receives governmental assistance in designing and delivering home healthcare services to patients via well-advanced applications. It is to be noted that the budget for the home healthcare applications in Florida hospital is managed by a panel of experts comprising of health professionals specialized in different areas as well as management professionals. They closely scrutinize a project proposal so as to understand its feasibility and to make sound investment decisions. It is identified that organizational issues have notably impacted the ongoing funding for the home healthcare applications in Florida hospital. There is a lack of inter-departmental collaboration in the organization that limits the scope of funding for these applications. Since Florida hospital is a not-for-profit acute-care facility, it has limitations in finding funds for managing home healthcare applications.
4.4 Efficiency management
Since home healthcare applications function based on computer/mobile technologies, there should be a possibility of system failures and downtime. Although an organization expects system failures or downtime in certain occasions, there is a possibility of unplanned downtime too due to various reasons. Hence, there should be proper arrangements for planned and unplanned downtime so as to deliver uninterrupted services to the users of home healthcare applications. It seems that the Florida hospital has made provisions for planned and unplanned downtime with intent to avoid inconvenience to the users to a great extent. In the event of a system failure, the organization activates alternative channels for the system users to communicate with their physicians and to receive proper advices. As discussed already, the organization has a professional home healthcare team supported by a registered nurse whose services (direct visit or phone consultation) are available 24 hours a day. Hence, patients undergoing home healthcare may enjoy the services of this professional home health tem during unplanned downtime.
Since the organization gives utmost importance to the security of confidential patient information, it focuses particularly on the upgradation of home healthcare applications. The organization uses different needs assessment techniques to be informed of the real user needs, and based on this information the management plans and schedules system upgrades. In addition, the organization’s professional home healthcare team closely evaluates industry trends and thereby determines whether or not an upgrade is vital to improve the performance and security of a particular home healthcare application. While scheduling an application upgrade, the organization makes proper arrangements for the expected downtime that would cause inconvenience to many users. Finally, the emergence of newer technology is a major component determining the upgradation of a home healthcare application.
5. Innovative Aspects of the System
Since home healthcare applications function relying on a combination of information, communication, and computer technologies, they can utilize technology innovations greatly. Florida hospital may utilize technology innovations to develop a new home healthcare application or to upgrade an existing application. In certain circumstances, technology innovations may assist the organization to redesign an existing application in such a way to deliver home healthcare to patients in a more efficient and affordable manner. In addition, technology innovations may be effectively utilized to increase the user-friendliness of an application and thereby allow even older citizens to make better use of that application. It is also better for the organization to rely on technology innovations to enhance the functionality and compatibility its home healthcare applications.
It is recommendable for Florida hospital to integrate technology innovation in medicine and IT field to offer convenient and superior quality home healthcare services to patient. The organization is advised to rely on technology innovations particularly to enhance the security of its home healthcare applications and to ensure the confidentiality of patient data/information (Krishna, Kelleher & Stahlberg, 2007).). Based on technology innovations, the organization may facilitate rapid interchange of information between the sender and the receiver in the home healthcare. There is no doubt that faster communication between the patient and physician can enhance care quality and patient outcomes (Dingley et al., n.d.). It is advisable for the organization to depend on technology innovations to develop software that can analyze past patient history and give valuable information to the physician instantly. Such a system can also assist the physician to be informed of the medications that are allergenic to the patient and thereby avoid unwanted care situations. There is no doubt that technology innovations can significantly promote evidence-based practices in a home healthcare environment, and this may be effective to enhance patient outcomes. For instance, technology innovations may be utilized to combine current best evidence with clinical expertise and to respond to emergency care situations in an efficient manner. Experiences suggest that evidence-based care is a potential strategy to make fast healthcare decisions in critical situation and to improve patient safety (Titler, 2008).
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Florida Hospital Tampa. Official website. https://www.floridahospital.com/tampa/home-care
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PR Newswire. (n.d.). New Poll: American Seniors Support Action to Prevent Proposed Cuts to Medicare Home Health Benefit. Retrieved from http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-poll-american-seniors-support-action-to-prevent-proposed-cuts-to-medicare-home-health-benefit-223147241.html
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