Security, stability foster empathy and advance excellence in both care provision and business operations
Sameer Bhargava, Chief Information Officer and Chief Technology Officer at Caregiver, Inc., is leading the Fort Worth, Texas-based company’s technological transformation to assure that technology supports and advances their core mission of caring for those who depend on their services — nearly 3000 individuals in Texas, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee who qualify as developmentally or intellectually disabled (IDD) or are impacted by related conditions.
Today, all industries are progressing through major changes in technology that affect daily life, whether computational and communications, devices with sensors, powerful new software tools and, in healthcare, the nearly universal adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHR). At Caregiver, technology is integral infrastructure for the company’s operations and service delivery. Yet staying mission-focused and absolutely dedicated to the human element are equally important.
“Our ‘digital evolution’ places individuals we serve at the center of everything we do,” said Bhargava. “They want independence and dignity, and their families and guardians want peace of mind. Our advances in technology are laser-focused on facilitating the attainment of their goals.”
Since the 1990s and a shift to community-based services, the IDD industry frequently encompassed smaller, family-owned businesses that kept records for home, intermediate, and community care mostly on paper. As the industry has expanded to meet increased demand, consolidated for efficiency, and centralized administrative support, digital systems have become even more essential and, in some instances, mandated.
Keeping human beings front and center, Bhargava and his team designed a strategic, layered approach to their digital evolution that would ensure stability. Efforts were necessarily thoughtful, careful and cost-sensitive.
They began by transitioning Caregiver’s records from paper to electronic files. Not only does digital record-keeping provide portability, but Caregiver’s EHR system can furnish an efficient checklist for an individual’s team to work from, including schedules and reminders, among other tools. In an eight-month time period, Caregiver migrated eight million records from paper to their EHR system. As well, the company has approximately 1,500 users logging into the EHR on a daily basis, and, to date, around 16,000 training courses have been completed by its user base.
“Paper won’t remind you of your tasks, and paper files can get lost or damaged. Digital systems are stable, fungible, and accessible,” he stressed. “It’s ultimately a better experience for the individuals and the caregivers. Most importantly, technology reduces the administrative burden of care staff, increasing the amount of time that the staff can spend with the individuals we serve.”
Moving to electronic records elevates the company and those they serve to a care ecosystem, a cohesive system that can provide a better network of services whether part of group home and day-habilitation centers, accounting and finance, compliance and regulation, or audit and review. Records provide proof of care to support billing without having to fill out forms or faxes. Auditor surveyors can read proof of service details without searching through cumbersome binders. Orderly incident reports can be assessed and, if needed, appropriately and quickly escalated. The resulting transparency facilitates suitable, real-time assignment for professional intervention, if needed. Issues are handled quickly, by the right person, at the right time. Results include improved quality and safety within a better network of services.
“We serve our individuals 24 hours a day. Everyone has what they need when they need it,” Bhargava stated. “At each opportunity, we ask ourselves what will help the individual, the staff, and the guardian. We’re here to provide safety, independence, dignity, and peace of mind.”
Bhargava’s dedication to a strategic, thoughtful approach on how technology can help an individual live his or her best life was inspired by the fact that Caregiver’s teams take care of their individuals for decades. The company must monitor multiple aspects of each situation – medical, social, work-life, community engagement and more. Caregiver teams are often custodians of an individual’s finances. Digitization minimizes vulnerabilities and maximizes controls, providing an audit trail of how money is acquired and spent.
The pervasive shift influenced by Caregiver’s technological evolution has touched every corner of their business. Early on, the process was greenlit and supported by CEO Mark Lashley, who recognized that technology could greatly improve the lives of the thousands of individuals they serve and their staff of 3500 in four states.
“Often when an organization moves from manual to digital, there can be resistance. Mark’s support and leadership buoyed the change management process,” said Bhargava. “From beginning to end, at each step of each migration, our plans were well-communicated and successfully rolled-out. Now we are moving to the next stage, which entails creating near real-time quality metrics in a companywide dashboard, so we can act upon leading and lagging indicators quickly and effectively.”
According to Bhargava, the advancements are helping position Caregiver as a provider of choice and an employer of choice. Upgrades included website revamps across multiple brands to tie them closely to their holding company, and introduction of news and information for interested visitors with frequent updates and links to additional research, thought leadership and resources.
“In my opinion, this is the ideal use of technology,” Bhargava commented. “The maturity of a society is gauged by how community members care for their most vulnerable. I feel privileged to be a part of a team that is deeply devoted to helping give our individuals what they need to live the best lives they can.”
ABOUT CAREGIVER, INC.
Caregiver, Inc., is a privately-held company with over 3500 employees within the headquarters support group and branded affiliate organizations in four states. The affiliates provide intermediate, home and community care services to nearly 2800 individuals who qualify as developmentally or intellectually disabled or are impacted by related conditions. Caregiver, Inc. was formed in 2015 and now includes these affiliates: Unified Care Group, Southern Concepts, River Gardens, Daybreak Community Services Inc., St. Giles Living Centers, DSA of Indiana, HHC of Ohio, and Omni Support Services of Tennessee. All have similar service offerings and strong reputations in their local communities. Caregiver services include supported home living, family protective services, case coordination, nursing services, respite services, day habilitation, psychology services, dental treatment, specialized therapies, adaptive aids, minor home modifications, and supported employment. Caregiver president and CEO is Mark Lashley. Company headquarters are at 4800 Overton Plaza, Suite 440, Fort Worth, Texas 76109. Phone is (800) 299-5161. They are on the web at cg-idd.com
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