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5 ways AI and advanced algorithms are optimizing scheduling for home care agencies 

5 ways AI and advanced algorithms are optimizing scheduling for home care agencies

The home care industry is currently facing several challenges due to the increasing demand for services and the rising costs of providing care. Increasing aging populations, labor shortages, technological advances, and regulatory changes have all contributed to more complex operations. At the same time, home care agencies must handle a rising number of patients with increasingly complex medical conditions that require customized treatments. The limited availability of qualified staff can create further operational challenges for some agencies as well as the changing regulations at both state and federal levels adding complexity to an already demanding field. 

To combat these challenges and stay afloat in this changing industry, home care agencies have begun to embrace digital transformation as more technology and innovation have presented solutions to these challenges. These technical solutions available for home care agencies are in the form of artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced algorithms embedded in home care software. More and more home-based care agencies are investing in these innovative tools to help them retain and recruit staff, save on unnecessary costs, and reach operational efficiency, all while growing their business.  

One of the many advantages of AI and advanced algorithms is the ability to transform and optimize home care agencies’ scheduling processes.  

Where do the current challenges lie in home care scheduling processes? 

Home care scheduling is becoming increasingly complex as the demand for home care services continues to grow. Traditionally, home care organizations resort to paper processes or excel sheets to schedule their caregivers accordingly. According to a report by AlayaCare and HHCN on home care industry challenges, they found that home care providers reported that one of the main reasons for employee churn was inconsistent scheduling. Another survey report focused on employee recruitment and retention, stated that commuting and routing to appointments is also a concern for employee churn.  

In addition, other challenges home care agencies face are: 

  1. Access to timely and accurate information 
  2. Limited resources 
  3. Frequent changes in patient/client needs 
  4. Lack of communication between providers and patients/clients 
  5. Inadequate staff training 
  6. Time consuming data entry processes 
  7. Inefficient record keeping practices 

Inevitably these challenges often lead to an increased pressure on home care organizations and eventually decreased levels of quality care for patients/clients.  

How can AI and advanced algorithms provide solutions for scheduling? 

AI-driven automation and data analytics can take away challenges home care agencies face with their manual scheduling processes.  

Here are 5 ways AI driven tools can optimize and improve home care scheduling… 

1. Provide consistent scheduling hours  

With integrated and optimized software powered by AI, advanced algorithms can take caregiver information and preferences and map out a schedule to ensure they receive accurate consistent hours. These algorithms can detect any changes to the schedule and act accordingly filling any vacant visits with the best employee based on up-to-date data on employee availability, commuting range, and more. This allows for better care coordination, pulling together the right team at the right time and with the right service model.  

Want to explore more about scheduling optimization to eliminate inconsistent scheduling hours? Check our blog 4 tips to improve caregiver experience through scheduling and route optimization.  

2. Access to scheduling in real time via mobile  

As we’ve mentioned before, scheduled visits and important client information regarding said visit can change all the time. Having access to these changes in real-time via a mobile application is one of the many solutions some home care software providers can offer. In addition, some mobile apps also offer GPS features to help caregivers get to their clients in the most efficient way possible as the AI-driven tools can calculate the best route or them to take to get there. All in all, ensuring that staff can be informed of any changes, know exactly where they must be and when, and how to get there in the best way possible based on their commuting method and where their previous visit is located.  

“We’ve completely eliminated the paper time sheet from our process because the workers are doing all the work in real time on the mobile. Their punching all of their visits, being GPS, and time stamps, we have effectively a client confirmation of every visit.”

Mike Felker, IT Manager, Acclaim Health 

3. Searching and matching the best caregiver for the client 

With home care software, agencies can keep all their records and resources up to date in real-time. This is crucial for the AI-driven scheduling tools as they use this data to make sure each client/patient is paired with the best possible employee that matches their needs, has the required skillset, is within their commute zone, and has the availability. This tool can also be useful when last-minute changes occur, such as a caregiver calling in sick or a sudden vacant visit, and the agency needs to fill that visit right away with the best available qualified caregiver to fill that shift in a timely manner.  

4. Optimized routing and commute time 

It wouldn’t make sense to schedule a caregiver for a visit that is an hour’s commute from their other previous shift if the caregiver has little time between shifts or doesn’t have the means to get there. Some caregivers don’t have access to vehicles and must take public transportation to get to their clients. Using AI-driven scheduling, their commute type, and times are considered when scheduling that caregiver to make sure they can get to their clients efficiently and easily.  

“Immediately we saw a 15% improvement in our mileage costs, which is huge from a financial standpoint because if we can improve 15% of where we were when we implemented it, that 15% carried over as we grow is essentially as far as really seeing something that is tangible, to say that “this was a good choice”.

Tammy Hehn, Director of Client Services, Access Health 

5. Predicting any schedule changes and caregiver churn 

As we mentioned earlier among the challenges home care agencies face with traditional scheduling methods, there are frequent changes to client needs and caregivers tend not have access to updates in information regarding a visit. Some home care software providers have AI-driven data analytics tools to help agencies forecast scheduling conflicts and possible employee churn so they can act and adjust accordingly. This also includes AI-driven tools to help predict caregiver churn based on employee behavior and other data collected on visits, with this information agencies can take action to retain that caregiver and prepare for the possibility of churn to make sure the schedule won’t be affected greatly by using the other methods mentioned above, such as the employee and client matching.  

Learn more about home care data and how it can forecast employee churn in our blog, Forecast the Future: Leveraging Data to Predict Home Care Worker Churn.  

AI-driven automation and data analytics can provide solutions for home care organizations who face challenges with their current scheduling processes. By providing consistent scheduling hours, optimize commuting and routes, caregiver access to real-time scheduling updates, and predicting any changes or employee churn AI-driven scheduling can ultimately provide more efficient operations for the agency as well as increase employee recruitment and retention. All in all, saving on costs and time associated with traditional scheduling methods.  

Learn about how machine learning and optimization algorithms are impacting home care delivery. 

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