No question, mobile devices have transformed home health care delivery. Nurses, therapists and other clinicians can now document vital data in patient homes using laptops, tablets or even smartphones. They can also access patient medical records in real-time, check drug interactions, coordinate with other care providers and comply with meaningful use information sharing requirements and other Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) mandates.
Convenient but often overlooked
While home health providers applaud this progress on the electronic front, they often overlook the fact that advances in compact mobile printers make it not only possible – but easy – to print critical documents at a patient’s home. The ability to quickly print full-page 8½” x 11” hard copies and immediately hand them to patients and/or family members and caregivers during a home visit boosts patient safety and clinician efficiency, as well as ensures compliance with CMS rules.
Consider medication lists, for example. Home health care patients often take several different prescription drugs with sometimes confusing instructions, putting them at increased risk for medication errors. In addition, CMS mandates that hospice and home health care workers leave a detailed medication list at the patient’s residence. Handwriting additional instructions is both time-consuming and prone to error, given how difficult some handwritten materials can be to read coupled with the possibility that hurried clinicians may copy down information inaccurately. With a mobile printer, however, clinicians can easily print updated and personalized medication lists right at the time of care, along with helpful administration instructions and drug interaction data for caregivers to reference.
Boosting safety and productivity
Mobile printers also improve safety and productivity in several other ways. Clinicians can use them to print teaching guides, point of care treatment plans and patient master demographics, supporting their ability to educate family and caregivers about patient conditions and convey complex information about patient care in what may be an emotionally charged situation. This instruction can prove crucial to avoiding hospital readmissions for patients and the resulting Medicare reimbursement penalties for providers. In addition, mobile printers can save valuable time and speed proper treatment by enabling clinicians to print consent, waiver and refusal of service forms and get the required signatures on the spot.
As small as a box of spaghetti, and barely any heavier, today’s mobile printers fit easily in field bags, backpacks and large purses, making them ideal for clinicians constantly on the move. The current generation can print as fast as six pages per minute, with high resolution text, graphics and pictures. They connect directly and seamlessly to laptops, tablets or smartphones via USB or Bluetooth® technology, and compatible models are available for IOS and Android operating systems.
Thermal mobile printers have no inks or toners to maintain or replace, making them particularly reliable performers day after day even in extremely hot or freezing cold environments. The only consumable they require is thermal paper, which can be cut-sheet, fanfold or continuous roll, up to 8.5” wide. Obviously, long battery life is a must for clinicians on the go, while a variety of mounting and power options ensure the printers adapt to almost any vehicle as well.
Home health care will play an increasingly vital role in the future, in light of the healthcare industry’s growing emphasis on providing a full continuum of patient care beyond hospital walls. At the same time, the large cohort of aging Baby Boomers and their extended life expectancy will also accelerate demand for care, as well as exacerbate the current nursing shortage. By providing convenient in-home printing of important patient documents, mobile printers save harried clinicians the delay and time-consuming hassle of needing to return to their office. The printers are proving a valuable addition to the mobile tools home health providers now have at their disposal to enhance the quality of care they deliver – and to enable them to deliver it more efficiently than ever.
Dave Crist, senior vice president at Brother Mobile Solutions. Brother ™is a leader in mobile printing technology. For more information about Brother full-page and small format mobile thermal printing solutions, email [email protected] or visit www.brothermobilesolutions.com.