Connections - 02.28.24

Retain Staff, Engage Individuals: Workforce Management Strategies for I/DD Providers

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Workforce shortages are a common challenge in the intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD) community, both at the public and private levels. Although private organizations tend to be better staffed, direct support professionals (DSPs) still carry heavy caseloads, requiring overwhelming documentation and home visits.

What if I told you it was possible to minimize and streamline those workflows, thanks to new technology created specifically for I/DD agencies like yours?

One Platform Is All You Need

No matter how many locations or services you have, the most effective solutions can be contained in a single platform. Data can be shared across locations and devices, with metrics generated in real time. Workflows are preset and automated, to help your staff eliminate data duplication and reach their goals faster, more efficiently, and with fewer errors. And because information is not stored in a single device, these platforms are mobile-friendly for ease of use, even in-home visits.

Visionary platforms are increasingly adopting something called Advanced Automation. Some examples of Advanced Automation are innovations like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Advanced Automation is designed to work for your organization, creating more efficient workflows. As you can imagine, there are many benefits to this technology, including:

  • The ability to automate repetitive and manual tasks like documentation. DSPs can gain up to one full day a week—allowing them to focus on individuals instead of feeling overworked.
  • Information can be shared in real time, meaning documentation is always up-to-date and decisions can be made with the full picture in mind.
  • Consumer engagement portals allow for secure communication among individuals and their families, which increases engagement and investment in the process.
  • Mobile-friendly operation for an optimized workflow saves your employees valuable time and equips them with needed information on the go.
  • Workplace wellness practices ensure your workforce is fully supported so they can focus on providing services to individuals where and when they need them.

All these benefits are available to support your workforce within one unified platform, configured specifically for I/DD. This kind of setup is even more critical if you are providing additional services, ranging from home and community-based services to Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, employment training, behavioral health, autism and more.

Automation and the Workforce

Can you really give your DSPs one day back a week? Absolutely. To see how, let’s take a closer look at the effect of automation on your workforce.

  • Everyone knows documentation is time-consuming and stressful. As a former clinician, I chose this industry to help individuals not spend time documenting. Many DSPs report burnout from notetaking with heavy caseloads. But Advanced Automation eliminates that burden by 50%. A documentation assistant called Bells AI alleviates pain points to reduce documentation time, enable faster onboarding, staff retention and recruitment, enable concise clinical documentation, drive adherence and engagement in care plans.
  • Digitizing behavior tracking and ABA therapy workflows with one view, simplified clinical documentation and robust data to drive an improved user experience and decision-making.
  • Mobile dispatching uses GPS technology to give DSPs the most efficient routes for home visits or crisis calls. It can match the appropriate caregiver to each crisis request, based on location. And administrative staff can see where DSPs are while making visits. This tool can reduce travel time and improve access to critical information at the point of care.
  • For Electronic Visit Verification (EVV), mobile technology offers the functionality you need to support requirements beyond the federal mandate. DSPs can record data collected during visits using an agnostic mobile phone or tablet with an app or voice call. Capture accurate location information, type of service provided and duration of service to verify the validity of the visit.
  • Mobile technology is designed for your workflows—not the other way around. Whether you are in the field, at a home visit, or in the office, a mobile-friendly platform can significantly enhance staff efficiency, promote individual engagement, and contribute to positive outcomes for individuals.

Advanced Automation for Your Back Office

Providers aren’t the only ones facing burnout. Extensive caseloads mean more billing and claims, more submissions and chasing denials, and an overall burden on your revenue cycle. Back-office staff often spend their days in mundane, repetitive work, unable to take the breaks they deserve or even working after hours or on weekends.

With AI and RPA technology, you can boost collection rates, maximize staff efficiency and get a jump on denials. AlphaCollector is the leading automation platform built to increase collection rates. Leveraging over 30 years of health care collections intel, it speeds collection while powering the effectiveness of your revenue cycle team. With more flexibility and automation, administrative staff can move faster and work at a higher level. Drive more cash without increasing costs—while increasing staff satisfaction and retention.

The Power of Engagement

I/DD programs are designed to enable independence and the fullest possible expression of each person’s self-determination. That means individuals must be engaged as equal partners in their own care, from participating in home visits to actively pursuing services when recommended. Your staff needs to establish a trusted partnership with the individuals they serve—and that can be difficult if scheduling and documentation are a barrier. Single-platform solutions with Advanced Automation not only decrease staff burden, they also increase individual engagement. For example, I mentioned the portal that allows information to be exchanged between individuals and providers. This allows for secure, HIPAA compliant messaging, appointment reminders, telehealth, document exchange and more.

Digitize and Simplify: How to Increase Team Satisfaction

The formula for a happier staff is simple: digitize and simplify. That’s exactly what Advanced Automation is designed to do—and workflows can be configured specifically for your organization.

If all of this sounds new to you, that’s because it’s cutting-edge technology. But organizations like yours across human services are working with Netsmart to adopt Advanced Automation more and more. If you’d like to innovate and lead the way in I/DD, you’ll have increased staff retention, a healthier revenue cycle, more engaged individuals and plenty of growth to show for it. You’ll also have a competitive advantage if other organizations in your area haven’t yet launched this technology.

An automated and accountable workflow platform can create more effective clinical processes, improve care coordination, and help the individuals you serve enjoy more rewarding lives. Sometimes the best way to serve people is with a little help from technology.

Tricia Zerger is the Senior Director of Human Services at Netsmart.