Welcome to Vision | The Home Care Leaders Podcast, I’m Miriam Allred with Home Care Pulse. My guest today is Miranda Reese, the Vice President of Operations at Intrepid USA. Miranda, welcome to the show!
Really excited to have you on, you have quite an extensive background in home care in health care, really at large, and you’ve got a background as an RN, and you’ve kind of focused on the client or the patient experience over the course of your career. And I’m really just excited to pick your brain on the client experience and really what’s happening. With technology obviously the last year has sped up. Home-Health tenfold, you could say. And so I just want to talk about technology and what you’re seeing on the latest innovations there at Intrepid or across the industry, you know, what you all are doing or I’ve done over the last year and what you’ve got your eye on, you know, coming up. So, so talk to me, tell me a little bit about the innovation that has taken place. You know, there are Intrepid over the last 12 to 15 months?
So we definitely, we have a couple of things that are pretty exciting. We’re lucky because, you know, before the pandemic ever even started, we had already, you know, had our white board sessions where we had some virtualization up on, on the plan. So we knew we were going to go there. Just the pandemic really sped some of those items up, you know, every provider was faced with challenges. So we were no different with any of that. One of our biggest challenges was how we were going to work on effectively communicating with our patients and their families. You know, kind of how are we going to monitor that the new norm of having a fully remote workplace? Whenever we looked at these challenges, we looked at how we were going to adapt to our previous year, and that led us to a couple of innovations that we’ve done that are now just part of our everyday life.
One of those is our virtual clinical care management team. Another is our patient engagement platform, which is pretty exciting. You know, this one it really kind of serves a dual purpose it on one end of the spectrum. It allows us to check on the health and wellness of our, of our own teammates. And then on the other side, it provides a way for us to quickly engage with our patients our patient engagement platform. It allows us to be there virtually for our, our patients in that in-between time in between the visits. And by being there in the in-between time, you know, it helps reduce the hospital visits and the ER visits. It allows us to be a little bit more proactive and interventions for them. And then the third thing that we did was to create our virtualized intake and order team, this team, it, it really improves the efficiency and helps to streamline items for our referral sources.
It’s cool to hear you all, probably like most agencies had kind of a whiteboard of ideas. Like this would be awesome to implement in the next probably three to five years, but COVID was okay, let’s get this done in six months. And it sounds like that’s what you all experienced. Tell me a little bit about the platform that you all built. Is that something that’s integrated inside of a scheduling software that you have, or is it something that you guys built from the ground up or what does that look like? So it was
You know, it’s actually been pretty easy. You know, the virtualization of our of our clinical care management team has in my mind been one of our easiest transitions because of the response from our teams, you know, by virtualizing a layer that really focuses on the day to day QA type items. It’s really freed up our care members in our, in our care team centers to really be equipped with everything that they need to take better care of our patients.
You mentioned one of those teams is focused on automating or creating a virtual experience for referral partners. That’s been a hot topic over the last year of we can’t get into their offices or get into the hospitals. How do we communicate with them? They’re tired of emails. What have been some of the best practices that you’ve found there that have been successful?
Yeah, you know, so having our, our virtual intake team and in our orders management team, it has really streamlined those processes. You know, it’s kind of a one-stop shop where everything comes into them and to, to these team members and they handle it.
These things that we’re learning are here to stay, you know, there’s a lot of processes that we’re going to have to strike the balance, moving forward and find out, you know, what each individual likes, but what our partners like. And it’ll become kind of this blended approach that I think will be beneficial to everyone. Tell me about how the clients are responding. You know, it sounds like some of these, a lot of these processes have been for your internal team, but some of them may be impacting the clients themselves. How, how do you feel like they’re adjusting or how are they responding to the technological advancements that are coming to home care?
I mean, when the pandemic started, we all had to adapt. You had to adapt. I had to adapt me. My kids were adapting and doing, you know, Zoom school. I had to be a teacher. I mean, it was, it was crazy. So, you know, generally speaking, we know that our seniors had to adapt to, you know, they were maybe some late adopters of technology, but the pandemic has definitely accelerated their comfort level and their willingness to engage with the technology. A great example of this, you know, is FaceTiming with friends and family during the pandemic. They couldn’t just leave their home and go watch Susie Q at her recital. You know, they, they did it all by FaceTime and they embraced it. And so this increased interest in, and the adoption of the technology is beneficial for the home health industry, because now we can be kind of more tech minded when caring for our patients. We understand that it’s a challenge. And you know, a lot of times these kind of techie things are not made for seniors, but rather are made for the younger population. We really looked to partner with specific vendors that you know, we’re taking the time to make sure that the technology was geared towards our seniors, because we know that we can use technology to make things better for our patients and their families.
And likewise for the caregivers, I’m not sure about your workers specifically, but a lot of agencies, it’s a pretty diverse group. You know, there’s a lot of young out of college, kind of that young demographic, all the way to caregivers that are 50, 60, 70 years old. What have you seen on the caregiver front? You know, how are you balancing giving all of your caregivers, what they want and need when it comes to technology and their preferences?
You know, we are really fortunate here at Intrepid USA that we have some very tenured team members out there. And at the same time, we have some just fresh faced right out of nursing school, first job. So we have the whole spectrum. And so far everybody has embraced it pretty equally amongst every everybody.
That’s great to hear this industry, we’re going to have to strike the balance. You know, we’re going to have to figure out how we keep that human element, because it is such a human to human business, but embrace the technology that’s helping us. How do you think other executives will be able to strike this balance? You know, what do we need to continue to adapt? Or how do we need to evolve so that we can strike the balance between the two
That’s a good one, you know technology done properly, you know, it frees people up to do the things that machines can’t can’t do. You know, we use technology to give us more face time with our patients. When I would say that whenever you use technology in the right way, it really can improve quality of care. People assume that just because you’re injecting tech and to kind of the, the high touch element that, you know, we’ll see a reduction in that, that human element. But we look at it and we see it in, in the exact opposite. We are using the technology out there to kind of audit, automate some of the things that we use to take a w that would take away from the patients. So we see it as, you know, kind of like anything we invest in from a technology standpoint, adds value to our patients.
You know, we let’s take the, let’s take our patient engagement platform. For example, this platform allows our patients to have 24 7 access to us. Now we always tell our patients, we’re on call 24 7. You, you know how to get ahold of us, but I can, you know, just speaking from personal experience, being a, a RN that provided direct patient care, I would go, and I would see a patient who had declined since my previous visit. And I would say, why didn’t you call us, you know, here’s our numbers right here on the fridge. It’s on this folder, you know, your, your daughter has my own personal cell, whatever it is. And the response was always the same. We didn’t want to bother you. Well, that’s what I’m here for. I need you, I need you to bother me. And so, you know, by having this platform and having this device, whether it’s our patient or it’s our caregiver, or it’s their, their family member, you know, they go on and they can log in symptoms what’s happening. And they may not know that they’ve declined, but I, as their nurse, I know that they’ve declined and I can implement some interventions, get ahold of the doctor, you know, be there for them right now. So that kind of brings us back to the human touch.
That’s super interesting. Do you find that a lot of clients are engaging with it, or I don’t know, maybe a percentage of people that are actually going in there and filling that out versus those that aren’t or any incentives that you have to make sure that they’re keeping up with that?
In an ideal world, or they’re all kind of keeping track of themselves and where they’re to supplement what they’re already doing, but in home care, I think we’re, we’re hoping to get there to where we’re accurately tracking everything that’s happening so that it doesn’t get to the point where they have to be readmitted to the hospital or, you know, into a facility. So, so it’s just interesting. And that’s part of this conversation of just technology. How can we get them on board with the text so that the level of care is enhanced because of the integration with technology? So I don’t know any other thoughts?
Let’s kind of talk about the future. You said a number of months ago, you kind of had the whiteboard of ideas of what you guys wanted to integrate and then COVID sped everything up. How can we make sure we don’t get complacent, as things do go back to somewhat normal? How can we in home care, make sure we continue to advance, you know, so much has happened in the last 15 months, but, you know, we don’t want home care to just kind of get back on our heels and get complacent. How do you think we can make sure that we advance and keep, you know, take this momentum with us moving forward?
Yeah. So, you know, I’m not sure that things will ever fully return to normal, at least for, you know, home health care providers. As more and more people are choosing to be cared for in the privacy and comfort of their own home, which by large, you know, that is the safest place for them. The acuity of our patients is, you know, is increasing. So what we can do is to, you know, maybe make that more normal, know that the acuity of our patients is going to increase and we have to make sure that our teams are equipped to provide care for every patient regardless of their acuity.
Absolutely. And just looking ahead to, you know, healthcare reforms and prioritizing home-based care, what, what do you think is coming? That’s kind of a really broad question, but what do you anticipate? What are you excited for? What are you anxious for
What’s next? Right. I guess I see it as more and more patients will be coming to the healthcare setting, you know, in in particular we’re seeing an increased focus on home-based palliative care. So this is, this is great because it really is taking care of the, the full spectrum of a patient. You know, the future, I guess, to sum it up would be the future as a one-stop shop for everything you need from just, if you just need a little bit of help to, you need a lot of help. We’re all here in one one-stop shop.
Especially there at Intrepid. You guys cover a variety of sectors within the home health space at large, and you’ve seen that, how they work together and how, you know, being a one-stop shop for a large population is so beneficial because there’s a lot of you know, specializations inside of the home healthcare and being the one provider that can do all of that is, is key.
In closing, talk about how providers can prepare, you’ve learned so much in the last bit, what would be your advice for providers moving forward? How can they prepare to capitalize on this growing demand for in-home care over the next few years?
Yeah. you know, like we’ve already kind of determined things are always changing, right? So I would, the one thing that we can do to prepare is to make sure that we have the right people that you’re bringing in the right people into your organization. You know we really searched for the people to be a part of our team that put quality of patient care above everything else we get that, you know, and, and some other industries that people just kind of do what they’ve always done, but we look at it as a you know, reward the doers. We can ask anything, let’s talk about it. And I think by, by fostering that kind of really positive environment, it just helps us identify team members that strengthen the culture that we’re really striving hard to build.
Other industries, even, you know, sometimes in our industry, we get a little complacent, it’s easy to just get into our mode of operation and do what we’ve always done because it’s comfortable. But as we’ve all realized over the last year, we’ve got to get outside of our comfort zone and be willing to stretch and grow. And COVID has done that, especially to these workforces that have direct care workers and taking care of these vulnerable populations. It’s been so insightful veranda. I so appreciate your time. Thanks for joining me. Thanks for sharing some of your expertise on technology and what’s happening with home health tech and where we’re headed as an industry. Intrepid is clearly a thought leader in this space and, you know, just appreciate you being on with me today.