Personal POV: The lack of technology while navigating hospice care

Personal POV: The lack of technology while navigating hospice care

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By: Rob Stoltz, Senior Director, Business Development, MatrixCare

In this blog series, our CitusHealth employees share personal stories about their experiences having family members and loved ones in home-based or residential care—and how technology could have led to more positive outcomes.

A close family member of mine was in a situation that required a long hospice stay, about four to five months during 2019. At the time, I lived 300 miles away and his spouse was the primary live-in caregiver, but I did my best to be supportive despite the distance between us. While the lack of technology never reflects on the kind of great care our hospice staff provided, I remember two specific instances where communication caused frustration due to lack of seamless processes.

Poor communication can add stress during hospice care
In the first scenario, I tried to remotely lend support when we decided to take my family member away for a weekend. We knew hospice care would be impacted during that time away, but we didn’t know how to intervene if something happened or which equipment we needed for our trip. Getting answers to these questions resulted in three days of phone tag.

Another scenario happened toward the end of life, when we needed to get a hospital bed into the home because we were no longer able to transition him from place to place. Coordinating this equipment proved to be a challenge despite me being there in person. At the time of the home visit, we requested a hospital bed from the hospice nurse. She in turn called the hospice to make the request. Hospice then called the DME provider. The DME then returned the call to the hospice to confirm same-day delivery. The hospice called the nurse who had already left the home, and then the nurse called to let us know DME would be contacting us with delivery details, which led to a few more calls before confirming a delivery time. In total, we managed a series of seven phone calls for the delivery of one hospital bed.

The point of sharing these two memories of my loved one’s care is that, with anyone else in my life, I would simply send a text to get a real-time, instant response. This back-and-forth phone tag that’s so common in healthcare seems archaic with the technology available in every other facet of our lives.

Industry studies show the positive impact better methods of communication could have on referrals and CAHPS scores. If we would have had a group chat between me, my family, the DME provider, and hospice, these two scenarios would have resolved quickly and seamlessly—making the difficult realities of hospice care easier on our family.

From the nurse’s perspective, who has a full day of home visits, going through so many steps to communicate causes friction in the care process and takes their focus away from other patients. The lack of digital tools that can simplify care coordination puts a burden on both the patient and those providing care.

Better communication should be the standard of care
With the right technology, care teams can engage easier and families can get responses faster. My hope for the future of hospice and home health care is that these digital tools that foster seamless collaboration will become part of the standard of care. Modern communication should be the norm—it will ease stress on families during an already difficult time and it will provide work-life balance for staff who need a more efficient process of care coordination.

Schedule a demo today and we’ll show you the difference CitusHealth can make for more collaborative, cohesive care in the home and beyond.

Rob Stoltz
Rob Stoltz

Rob Stoltz is a long-time veteran in the home-based healthcare IT industry, with deep experience in EMRs, care transitions, patient engagement, predictive analytics, and interoperability. As Senior Director of Business Development at MatrixCare, Rob has been focused on technology partnerships leveraging interoperability to benefit all stakeholders involved with patient care while enhancing provider efficiency through effective workflows.