1. Chetney, Rhonda MS, RN, Guest Editor

Article Content

Home care agencies across the United States have been successfully using new technologies to improve patient care, increase clinician productivity, and increase the efficiency of their operational systems. This month's issue focuses on sharing helpful clinical and organizational information for those wanting to begin or expand their use of technology. Whether in the form of new treatment approaches for patients with swallowing disorders, hypertension, or congestive heart failure among other disease management issues, telehealth applications are necessary to build successful clinical programs.


Developing a cost analysis for the purchase and use of telehealth tools continues to be a challenge for many home care agencies. A successful business plan analysis justifies the technology purchase and the return on investment and also shows future cost savings and revenue increases. This issue includes excellent information that can help an agency build a telehealth and technology business plan and shares practical ways to justify cost savings.


Many choices for Telehealth equipment are available; this often creates overwhelming decision-making challenges. As Ann Frantz describes in her article, matching appropriate telehealth applications to your patient's needs is crucial to success; Ms. Frantz outlines how agencies can use their OBQI data in selecting their telehealth patient population.


As technology continues to influence home care, whether through the transition to point of care documentation systems or use of other technology, clinicians who want to continue visiting patients in their homes must become technologically competent.


How can agencies bring excellent clinical staff with years of experience into this new age?


One way is for agencies to ensure technological competencies are as important as all other staff competencies. This special issue of HHN includes simple techniques used during orientation and in ongoing educational programs to assess computer knowledge, provide E-learning opportunities, and develop informatics competencies for clinicians.


State home care associations can play a significant role in assuring telehealth success, and the Pennsylvania Home Health Association has taken the lead. Its research on telehealth's impact on care, staffing, and clinician attitudes has provided a network of clinicians, agencies, and researchers who have united to apply technology to real application.


Telehealth and technology are tools for continuing home care success as we work to improve patient outcomes with fewer resources. Home care leadership must be the first place where changes occur. We need to ask ourselves several difficult questions:


[black small square] Are we technologically capable?


[black small square] Are we willing to let go of the past and move forward into the informatic world that surrounds us?


[black small square] Are we willing to find ways to do more and better with less?


[black small square] Have our attitudes changed from paper to paperless?


[black small square] Are we willing to meet the challenges of the future?



As this month's Accreditation Strategies column outlines, the Joint Commission's Home Care and Hospice Survey is turning to a tracer methodology to evaluate care. The home care industry must also be willing to use technology to trace the many steps to success.