Tracking time for your healthcare workers is a very important aspect of running your healthcare organization. Too often, tracking time is put on the back burner and sometimes it ends up leading to unexpected consequences. We’ve seen it all from employees padding their time with hours not worked, employers billing clients for work that was never done, and even leading to Medicaid fraud lawsuits. So how can you accurately track time for your caregivers and healthcare workers?
Disadvantages of Tracking with Paper and Trust
There are many ways to track time properly, depending on your situation and use case. But before we dive in, it’s crucial to understand the current disadvantages of tracking time with paper and trust:
1. Cost of inaccurate timesheets
Most organizations are still using paper timesheets. The cost of paper timesheet templates or forms may be cheap. However, paper timesheets are very error-prone and costly. You have to rely on employees to put in accurate times, and then there’s the added cost of waiting and hoping they turn in their time cards on time. In addition, are your employees trustworthy to write at the correct times?
2. Time theft
Time theft is a huge problem. It comes in many forms such as buddy punching. Buddy punching happens when a co-worker or buddy clocks in on behalf of another person. This is wrong on many levels because sometimes, the person being clocked in may not be at their job yet. With accurate healthcare time-tracking technology, this problem can be avoided.
3. Unnecessary rounding
When you use paper time cards, your team members will be forced to guess their times if they are not writing in their times when they arrive or leave work. Guessing time can be very expensive because an extra five or ten minutes here and there adds up over time. People tend to overestimate how many hours they’ve worked so being able to record when someone arrives or leaves is very important accurately.
4. Bad handwriting
Dealing with paper timecards is already tedious and more difficult when coupled with bad handwriting. The last thing you want is to spend valuable time figuring out the time card numbers due to non-legible handwriting.
Electronic Visit Verification
You may or may not have heard of Electronic Visit Verification (EVV). EVV is a growing requirement, especially in Medicaid-funded personal care services and home health services. States were required to have EVV use for all personal care services by January 1, 2020, and January 1, 2023, for home health care services. EVV requires that you have a good system in place to ensure that services offered by caregivers are accurately recorded.
An EVV-worthy time and attendance system may be able to do the following:
1. Track the service being performed.
2. The individual receiving the service.
3. The date the service was rendered.
4. The location of the service delivery.
5. The individual providing the service.
6. The time the service begins and ends.
A good time-tracking system, such as Buddy Punch, may help you meet EVV requirements. EVV-approved technologies vary. Some states have a mandatory provision, and others leave it at the discretion of the home health or personal care organizations to decide the ideal provider.
Best Ways to Track Time
Now on to how to properly track time for your caregivers:
1. Mobile time tracking app
Adopting a mobile time-tracking app can help caregivers and health workers accurately track time. With a mobile timesheet app, your employees can clock in and clock out straight from a smartphone; this can be a personal smartphone or a company-issued smartphone. A good time-tracking app will have mobile apps that work on iPhone and Android phones or tablets. It should also be able to let users clock in and out even if they don’t have internet access. Too often this is forgotten.
2. Kiosk or Terminal
If you aren’t comfortable with employees using a mobile time-tracking app, then you may consider mounting a clock-in kiosk app. A kiosk or terminal time clock could be a tablet that runs a time-tracking app on it. There’s no need to spend a lot of money on an expensive fingerprint or badge time clock. Employees are then assigned a unique code or PIN that allows them to clock in. Some more advanced kiosk time tracking clocks can take a photo of the person clocking in to ensure they are who they say they are. With advanced artificial intelligence technology, it can be determined if the person clocking in is really who they say they are. The time card gets flagged if it’s determined that an impersonator is clocking in.
3. Geofencing clock in
A geofence is a virtual boundary created around a geographical region. A time-tracking app with GPS tracking may have the ability to support a geofence. Geofences can add additional accountability to your time-tracking process. First, administrators can be notified when employees enter or exit a geofence. This would mean when a caregiver or health worker arrives at a point of interest, such as a patient’s home or arriving at the office, the administrator gets notified. Also if employees leave or go out of bounds, the employer could get notified as well. By utilizing a geofence, you can create a seamless clock-in and clock-out experience on arrival or departure from the geofence.
4. Crew or supervisor
In some cases, you may want a manager or supervisor to clock in/out for employees. There are many reasons why your health organization may wish to go this route. With this approach, the manager or supervisor would have access to a time tracking system, where they can clock in different employees. An ideal system will allow the supervisor to clock in multiple employees simultaneously.
5. SMS clock in and out
Sometimes your healthcare employees may not have access to a smartphone or a computer to clock in/out. Some people stick with smartphones because that’s the technology they are comfortable with. In scenarios like these, a time clock system supports SMS clock in/out. A system like this can be a very simple and effective solution to accurately tracking time. With such a system, the employee can simply text in a code to clock in and another unique code to clock out.
Please do not use paper
All the above electronic solutions provide a way to better track time. Please avoid using paper timesheets or time cards to track time. Paper time cards may seem like an easy way to track time. However, paper time cards can be very expensive. Even more expensive when you end up with a lawsuit.