Home Care Heroes Blog

Managing Post Acute Care Operations in a Storm

How do you manage operations when disaster strikes? Technology and good planning should be your allies.

Storms threaten patient safety and the delivery of post acute care, but a little planning and some good technology can help hospitals, ACOs and post acute providers of all types to keep things running smoothly. Making sure the right patients continue to get the right care at the right time should be easy with the right business practices and technology--even during a weather emergency.

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Hurricane Sandy

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A myriad of providers must cooperate to deliver services to patients in their homes and other residential settings. Home Care Agencies, Physical Therapy providers, infusion nurses, and HME delivery organizations are some of the more common ones, but hurricanes like Sandy threaten to disrupt operations and may even threaten the lives of patients. 

We're in the throes of hurricane season now and Sandy is beating on my door in Baltimore as I type this. Readers may recall a similar post when Hurricane Isaac struck the Gulf region in early September. That article remains one of the most popular posts we've ever run and it seems fitting to share some pieces of it again here.  

Once we emerge from hurricane season in November, much of the country will face the snowy winter months and the risk to care continuity that presents. Then, tornadoes and extreme thunderstorms of spring and the extreme heat of summer... and so on. Storm Happens. It's incumbent on providers to have a contingency plan, communicate it, and activate it when the weather turns extreme.

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One of the most read articles ever on Ankota's blog discussed ways to better manage home care when catastrophes hit. "Managing Home Care in a Storm," was originally written by Ankota's CTO, Ken Accardi, and the same lessons apply to hospitals, ACOs and post-acute providers that provide services including DME delivery, Physical Therapy, Infusion Nursing, and more. 

What is your strategy

The challenges of delivering care outside of hospitals on any kind of mobile basis are exacerbated when weather disrupts operations, as we just witnessed again with Hurricane Isaac. How are patients prioritized and rescheduled? Which ones require critical care regardless of the weather? Which ones can wait? Which care plans are affected? How do you communicate changes in schedules and care plans with staff, patients, family, and support networks? Hospitals, ACOs, and post acute care providers of all types must implement strategies to deal with weather-related emergencies and utilize technology that enables care, rather than inhibits it. Dangerous and life threatening conditions can be avoided with some simple planning. 

From Managing Home Care in a Storm: 

Here are some best practices that we've observed home care organizations follow to manage their operations in the midst of a snow emergency (and some things that Ankota's software does to help):

  • Move Appointments to Avoid the Times when travel is most inhibited: Ankota's scheduling board (screenshot below) shows you all of the planned jobs for the week on a drag and drop interface. so moving jobs forward or back is simple.

  • Make Sure that the jobs with critical timing are dealt with at the appropriate time:  Visits such as "chemo finish" visits for a 48-hour chemo infusion have a very specific time frame for completion.  Ankota's scheduling board let's you know if you've by attempting to move a visit you've violated a scheduling constraint. 

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  • Communicate the Changes to the Care-Givers:  Ankota's software changes the visits to a different color when you manually reschedule, allowing you to tell your care workers what changed and what stayed the same.

  • Plan for Two people per car (in the event that it will be impossible to park and one person will need to hover): Although the Ankota software doesn't specifically have a feature for scheduling two people in the same vehicle, we have the ability to change the work shifts easily for the emergency workers and mark the others as unavailable (and to make sure that all of the time sheets come out right).

  • Keep non-essential personnel at home: Ankota's web-based software allows your office staff to operate from their home via their internet connection.

  • Communicate to the Loved-Ones of Your Patients: Ankota's FamilyConnect allows you to send a message out to family members of the people you care for.  By proactively sending a message to all of the families, you can save time for your critical staff.  Also, you can send messages to the families of individual patients/clients using the quick connect feature.  FamilyConnect messages are received by email and/or text message (as selected by the family member)

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Below is a screen shot of the Ankota Drag and Drop Schedule Board that allows you to see status and resolve issues at a glance.

Home Care Scheduling Software

We thank you for all you do to provide outstanding home care, even during the thoughest conditions!  If rescheduling was tougher for you than what's described above, please contact us so we can try to help.

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital.  Today Ankota services hospitals, ACOs, home health, private duty care, DME Delivery, RT, Physical Therapy and Home Infusion organizations, and is interested in helping to efficiently manage other forms of care.  To learn more, please contact Ankota by clicking on this cool orange button!

How do you mamage risk during storms? We'd love to hear from you in the comments section below.


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