Is Syncing Sinking Your Agency?

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Agencies Report Data Loss and Other Problems With Some Software Vendors, Creating Compliance and Productivity Issues

Software that requires downloads and database syncing is not capable of real-time updating or sharing, forcing providers and staff to put patients at risk if using outdated medical records during care visits.

Data that is out of date, is delayed in being electronically recorded, or is recorded incorrectly directlyimpacts care delivery. Delays in updating documentation can actually create further interruptions in providing care, processing orders, or processing reimbursements.

Data capture systems that are not fully connected to the care record at the time of the visit may not benefitfrom a more comprehensive evaluation of the care record. Delayed recording may introduce “blank” datafields or delay the capture of prerequisite or follow-on data, both directly impacting care.

At DeVero, we’ve found that customers who have tried a solution that “syncs” found they were working with outdated records because the field user hadn’t synced in a timely manner. This creates data integrity problems and can impact billing, operations, and (most importantly) patient care. Working live in the database ensures data is collected and the medical record is current, which is why they came to DeVero. Furthermore, there have been numerous reports of large home care agencies losing significant amounts of data when syncing issues occur, either at the agency level or during a larger problem with the software vendor.

Quite often, we’ve also found that vendors who offer “offline” mode with syncing only do so with certain data (eg: Medicare Home Health OASIS dataset), and that the remainder of the programs need to be documented online. Even in the cases where data is available offline, certain devices need to be used (such as a Microsoft Windows device).

Software distribution is another major issue, as syncing requires an application be loaded on your local device. When unsophisticated users are required to do their own software downloads and installations, problems can arise. Even simple questions users might have regarding the downloading and installation will require IT support. Remember, this occurs every time:

o a user gets a new computer
o the software vendor releases a bug fix
o the software vendor releases a product enhancement (regulatory or otherwise)

With DeVero, there is no requirement to download or install the application. This is because the application resides in a highly secure cloud environment – no software resides on any individual computer. These computers merely access the application using a standard web browser. Therefore, there are no ongoing agency IT requirements.

Finally, there is a data risk when syncing, as patient data resides on the laptop or device. Mobile devices are an easy target. They are stolen regardless of the applications or data on them. Thieves might not be targeting patient data, but the fact that this data exists on the computer results in a security breach that an agency must deal with. This is a major issue that will grow in importance as protecting patient data is a prime concern of the government. Whether or not fines are imposed, this is a serious cost and public relations hit to any agency, as noted in a recent HIPAA Journal article.

Bottom line: Live connectivity is the ideal when documenting in healthcare. Most areas of the United States have good connectivity. If there are problems in your area, a good resource for notifying carriers can be found HERE. A “lightweight” application like DeVero requires minimal signal to operate and is often successful even when coverage is below average. If coverage is in doubt, you can always try the software solution in these questionable locations in order to assure your peace of mind.

In the rare instances where no internet connection is available, your staff can document on paper (your forms, or Briggs or Med-Pass), then scan and upload the documentation into DeVero. A “data entry note” can then be created in DeVero to input the visit date, billing code, and time in/time out. The information will post from the data entry note to the billing module for payroll and billing. Your staff can even attach the scanned document directly to the appropriate “data entry note” in the patient chart.

Offline mode sounds great in theory, but keep this in mind:

• Your data is always out of sync
• Agency office staff have no visibility as to activity in process
• 2 syncing operations are required for each visit
• Syncing requires very good connectivity
• If syncing fails, you might lose data and will need to re-enter
• If syncing fails, data integrity problems arise

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