Home healthcare, including hospice care, is a booming business thanks in part to aging baby boomers. Along with this steadily increasing demand comes the complicated relationship between consumers, payers and providers searching for quality care, lowest cost and profitability. Technology has created solutions to coordinate all the players in the healthcare delivery game with cloud-based software, management and support. Healthcare first is a home healthcare agency and hospice care agency software and services company that coordinates healthcare in the Cloud.


What Is HEALTHCARE First?

Healthcare first reduces the nonclinical burden of care by providing software, management servicing and storage solutions for agencies that operate in the home health care and hospice arenas. The trail from the doctor's order for patient care, through the clinical care, and ending up with the bill paid is cluttered with paperwork, rules and regulations, pharmacy interactions and supply chain management. 

Home health and hospice care requires the management of scheduling, reporting and compliance, as well as the management of a business for profit. Healthcare first is the tool that coordinates all the facets involved in such agency endeavors.


What Is Home Health?

Home healthcare involves assisting with the activities of daily living (ADLs) and skilled care such as nursing, physical therapy and occupational therapy. There are no overhead and additional charges such as those found in hospitals and other care facilities, and patients tend to do better when they are treated in their own home. Home health services are typically provided by independent agencies that work for profit; they are businesses just like any other. Home health agencies are regulated just like any other health care provider; therefore, home healthcare requires its own management tools.


What Is Hospice Care?

Hospice care in the home focuses on caring for terminally ill patients in their home environment and the care is directed by patients and their families. The goal of hospice care is to provide pain management, symptom control, psycho social and spiritual care rather than interventions designed to cure. The patient is terminally ill, but that doesn't mean that hospice care is a non-regulated service. Hospice care is a specialty service that requires the management of physician orders, pharmacy and supplies, and federal and state regulations.

Healthcare First Details

person checklist

image source: Pixabay

Healthcare first works its magic through software, people, and the Cloud. Healthcare first integrates its software, services and analytics into one system to provide electronic health records (EHR), coding and billing services, federally mandated surveys and advanced home health analytics.


Homehealth Software

Healthcare first offers the firstHOMECARE software package for home healthcare. Easy to use tabs and interfaces function as a web-based system to simplify and automate the charting of assessments and interventions. Clinicians have access to best practice information and guidance to streamline their care plans, allowing for real-time decision-making. This software also has built in guidance, reviews and alerts that keep the caregiver in line with regulatory demands.

Billing occurs as a point of care model; charges are made in real time, efficiently sorted and stored. Financial management is enhanced by Healthcare first's firstREV revenue cycle management software. The software includes the ability to check eligibility, customize warning and error alerts for problems with billing, accounts payable and receivable management and financial analytics. General ledger accounting also allows for cash exports.

Agency management is at the heart of the business of home healthcare. Healthcare first offers several benefits for the actual running of the company:

  • Incoming referrals
  • Clinical performance and productivity
  • Compliance
  • Financial statistics
  • Personnel management

Payroll operations include the recording of pretax/pre-deduction payments to employees that can be transferred to payroll software. Other personnel operations include background checks, availability, evaluations, licensure and other requirements.

Customer support includes the people part of the Healthcare first package. Implementation is directed by dedicated product managers, educators and the support team. US-based technical support is available 24/7 with email, online chat and phone options, including emergency phone support. There is also a library of online learning videos, webinars and other training options.


Hospice Software

As the number of Americans advance towards the end of their life span, the demand for hospice care increases. Healthcare first offers a quartet of solutions in one care management package. Vendors are managed so that users of the software only deal with one vendor and one invoice. Regulatory compliance is enhanced with clinical documentation direction that keeps caregivers in compliance.

person holding amber glass bottles

Image Source: ​Unsplash

Hospice agencies thrive on referrals and referrals thrive on measurable, patient care outcomes. Healthcare first hospice software integrates with its home health software so that the total healthcare delivery cycle is managed in one unit. Hospice care providers are specialty practitioners that work in a challenging environment. The quality of care provided as well as employee satisfaction, is achieved through the program's ease-of-use and dedicated customer support.


Healthcare First Common Features

Home health care and home hospice care share certain common burdens and Healthcare first provides solutions:

  • Coding and billing
  • Advanced analytics
  • Payer connectivity
  • CAHPS

Medicare and other payers for healthcare services do not allow for coding and billing errors; with this package, coding and billing is performed by a team of coding professionals to ensure that reimbursement occurs as quickly as possible. Data is sorted and synthesized within the software to allow a complete view of financial, clinical and operational aspects, so that timely business decisions can be made with a minimum of error. 

Healthcare first partners with the Ability Network, a middleman who manages the processing of transactions. CAHPS--- the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems--- is a federally mandated evaluation program that depends on patient satisfaction surveys and is evaluated and reported within the software.


Pricing

Healthcare first software can be purchased starting from around $50 per month. Like many other software solution providers, the vendor for this software does not publish its fees online, which many believe drives business away from, rather than towards the purchase of the software. A price quote can be obtained online by filling out a form.


How It Compares

We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare.

Kinnser Software

Homecare Homebase Software

Brightree Home Health Software

 

Healthcare First Software

Ease of u​se

Healthcare first software is fully integrated and easy-to-use; the hard work is managed by a team of specialists.

Function​ality 

The software package provides enough options to solve common care and management issues, and the medication database is especially useful.

Product Quality 

Plenty of features are offered starting at $50 a month, and the package is integrated so everything works as a one.

Customer Support

24/7 customer support including a 24/7/365 emergency helpline, gives this software package five stars.

Pros

  •  Ease of care plan generation
  • Ease of access from a mobile device
  • Narrative notes easily saved
  • Easy to learn

Cons

  • Issues with the sequence of diagnosis input
  • Scheduling issues
  • Slow to save input

Kinnser Software

Kinnser Software provides web-based solutions for the clinical and business management of home health, hospice and private duty agencies. It offers the management of scheduling, billing, electronic visit verification, operations and patient referrals.

Price

Vendors for Kinnser Software do not advertise the fees online; potential customers will have to request a price and a demo, so we put price at three $ according to customer reviews.

Ease of use

Kinnser Software is supported by Windows, Mac and web-based platforms; it is Cloud hosted.

Functionality

Kinnser Software is sufficient for small, medium and large businesses. Applications can be modified for special requirements.

Product Quality 

Some administrators do not feel that this is a good application for medical records integration, but we found that Kinnser Software delivered quality over six features including delivery of care and financial reporting.

Customer Support

The vendor offers 24 seven support through email, phone and real time support. There are also training modules.

Pros

  • Easy-to-use
  • Modifiable
  • Good customer service

Cons

  •  Slow at times
  • Difficulty with transferring data
  • Self-service scheduling can be slow

Homecare Homebase Software

This is a Cloud-based software package for home and hospice healthcare agencies. This package has been rated the number one in homecare software and boasts that seven of the top 10 home health and hospice agencies use their software.

Price

Vendors for Homecare Homebase Software do not advertise their fees online; potential customers will have to request a price and a demo.

Ease of use

Homecare Homebase Software is supported by Windows, Mac and web-based platforms; it is Cloud hosted. Software is intuitive, allowing for faster training and implementation.

Functionality 

Charting, uploading and synchronization are streamlined to allow more time doing patient care. Its interoperability allows for cross platform connections.

Product Quality 

Scheduling, billing, automated workflow, documentation and CMS compliance are in top-notch working order.

Customer Support

Homecare Homebase Software offers a dedicated customer experience manager and boasts an internal support team available 24/7.

Pros

  •  Less time spent charting
  •  Synchronization in less than two minutes
  • Optimized scheduling and staffing

Cons

  • Non nursing providers must make modifications
  • Requires a learning curve
  • Can be costly
  • Better on a desktop that a tablet

Brightree Home Health Software

Brightree Home Health Software offers health care solutions for home and hospice healthcare agencies. The software was designed by clinicians and is reported to be ultra intuitive.

Price

Vendors for Brightree Home Health do not advertise their fees online; potential customers will have to request a price and a demo.

Ease of use

Brightree Home Health Software is supported by Windows, Mac and Linux platforms; it is Cloud hosted. Software is easy to use and provides compliance guidance.

Functionality

Accounting operations are problematic, and there is no productivity reporting with revenue cycle work lists. The software also lacks the ability to customize applications and synchronization is slow. Inventory management is quite good.

Product Quality

The software it is user-friendly and processes can be streamlined.

Customer Support

Brightree has about the same quality customer service as other software packages; 24/7 online support.

Pros

  • Doesn't require Internet in the homes
  • System of checks and balances for error reporting
  • Easy to learn

Cons

  • Problems with handling more than 50 current patients
  • Long synchronization times
  •  More geared towards home health than hospice
  • Requires frequent synchronization

Conclusion

The winner in the home healthcare software solutions for home healthcare and in-home hospice care is Homecare Homebase Software, at five stars. It is a robust system that is scalable so that agencies can seamlessly expand their businesses as they grow. This cloud-based software efficiently manages the complicated relationship between consumers, payers, and providers of healthcare by streamlining cloud-based software, management and support.

doctor holding red stethoscope

Image Source: Unsplash

Users report that it is expensive to use when all features are purchased, but if it can be afforded, Homecare Homebase Software appears to have the best value for the money. There is a reason why it has been rated number one, and that seven of the top 10 home health care agencies use this product.

Healthcare first comes in at a very close second, with four stars. It should get an extra star simply because its cost can be readily found on the Internet, and it starts out very affordable. Healthcare first optimizes an important component of nursing care; the care plan. Care may start with the physician's orders, but care continues through the nursing care plan.

Narrative notes are traditionally a time-consuming obligation, and some home health software packages have problems with narrative notes being lost or taking a long time to be saved; no so with Healthcare first. Medication errors are the number one health related error committed in the home. Healthcare first includes a medication database at the fingertips of the care provider, going a long way to reduce medication errors and provide the healthcare provider with a peace of mind. Healthcare first has the right number of options to coordinate all the facets involved in the business of operating a home healthcare agency.

Kinnser Software really isn't in the running, in terms of a robust, minimally flawed software package. Brightree comes in third, but the best choice is the one between Homecare Homebase and Healthcare first,

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