Presbyterian Home Healthcare Using Laptops To Provide Cutting-Edge Care
Innovative Strategies Ensure Success In 25th Anniversary Year
News Release: June 12, 1998
Albuquerque, NM -- With a new Pentium laptop computer, a nurse rings your doorbell and is ready to give you top quality home health care. As Presbyterian Home Healthcare celebrates its 25th anniversary, nurses and therapists at Presbyterian are already prepared for the 21st century.
While many home healthcare groups are struggling to survive or even going out of business, Presbyterian's home healthcare service expects to thrive, in part due to innovative ideas like the cutting-edge use of laptop computers.
In 1993, Presbyterian Home Healthcare looked ahead and saw that "electronic clinical records" were the tool of the future. So the agency's nurses and therapists began using laptops to record and store patient information and treatment plans, which improved access to information and communication between caregivers.
Last year, the laptop computers were upgraded to Pentium models to improve speed and the amount of information each computer could hold. Using a laptop allows Presbyterian's home caregiver to view a patient's entire medical history and treatment plan, frees the caregiver from carrying bulky paper files, and minimizes the chance that vital patient information will be lost or not seen. Each night, Presbyterian nurses and therapists across the state plug their laptops into phone lines. At approximately 12 midnight, new patient information is uploaded from the laptops to Presbyterian's main computers and then downloaded back to all the laptops at approximately 4 A.M. This ensures that caregivers have access to complete, updated patient information on a daily basis.
With more than 100 laptops in use throughout New Mexico, Presbyterian Home Healthcare is the only organization in the state currently utilizing laptops in this way and this extensively to improve patient care. This innovative use of laptops has helped to reduce the cost of providing high quality home care by ensuring the right number of visits and the correct care for patients, according to Doug Walker, director of Presbyterian Home Health Services. Walker said that the laptops allow caregivers to track treatment and outcome and their use helps to standardize home care. The laptops also provide continuity of care between different medical personnel.
"When a nurse or therapist shows up at the door, only two things can help them do their job better – their education and information. The laptops are invaluable because they provide the staff with all the information at their fingertips to do the best, highest quality job possible," said Walker.
While many home health care agencies are failing in the face of stricter regulations, innovative steps taken have helped Presbyterian Home Healthcare reduce costs and remain competitive while still providing the best care possible. Presbyterian Home Healthcare provides home care at 50 percent of the state's average cost to provide care, according to Palmetto, a fiscal intermediary for Health Care Finance Administration (HCFA). And as Medicare prepares to retroactively lower its "per beneficiary limit," Presbyterian Home Healthcare's innovative strategies will ensure its survival. As a result, Presbyterian will be able to continue to provide the highest quality care to all those in need.
In celebrating 25 years of bringing home healthcare to New Mexico, Presbyterian Home Healthcare remains committed to providing patient-focused, community-centered care. While laptop computers aid in efficient care giving, Presbyterian's cost-efficient measures do not exclude those who cannot pay. Presbyterian Home Healthcare continues to cover and provide home care for those patients without insurance or who are otherwise unable to pay for the care they need. Previously called Hospital Home Health Care, the organization was founded in 1973. Thelma Domenici, sister of Senator Pete Domenici, previously served as CEO for several years. Presbyterian Healthcare Services has had partial ownership in the organization since its founding in 1973. Presbyterian decided to acquire full ownership of Hospital Home Health Care in 1995 and the name was then changed to Presbyterian Home Healthcare.
Founded in 1908, Presbyterian Healthcare Services is a community-based, New Mexico not-for-profit healthcare organization. More than 400,000 New Mexico residents are served each year by Presbyterian facilities and programs. The organization owns, manages, or leases a statewide network of services including hospitals, outpatient centers, a health plan, and physician groups. Specialized programs include a nationally recognized heart care program, the state's only heart transplant program, a level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and high-risk obstetrical services.