HTM Speaks with Dave MacDougall, Controller, Northwood Homecare

HTM: Please introduce yourself, your background and your current role within Northwood Homecare Limited:

My name is Dave MacDougall. I’ve been the Controller for Northwood Homecare since 2005. More recently I’ve taken on the additional role of Project Manager for Celltrak Implementation.

HTM: Who is Northwood and where did it all begin?

Northwood will celebrate 50 years this Fall. We began as an Affordable Housing Development for “Senior Citizens” in the 1960’s and have since become a leader in Continuing Care for Atlantic Canada. As a Not-for-Profit we continue to ensure that our main focus is the clients that we serve.

HTM: What do your clients want, need and desire?

Our clients look for reliable homecare service enabling them to live in their own homes for as long as possible. They expect qualified, caring and dedicated staff and appreciate high standard of service that Northwood provides.

HTM: The Canadian market for wireless home-based healthcare applications and services will grow. Why did Northwood become a leader in this area and move forward with CellTrak’s mobile application and platform in 2009?

Northwood has a culture of quality, leadership and excellence. We’ve long appreciated the need for the right technology to ensure the best outcomes. Having previously rolled out cell phones and a comprehensive scheduling system, CellTrak/Smart phones were the next logical step towards improving staff safety, staff connectedness and enhanced record keeping. We have realized for a long time that communication with our staff is key and the importance of giving them the tools to focus on what they do best, providing client care. Celltrak were the logical partners, being leaders in their field and understanding both the technology side and healthcare in the field. From the outset, Celltrak also understood the importance of their solution having positive cost implications. This made the decision an easier one.

HTM: How does CellTrak’s mobile technology help the clients and the business needs at Northwood?

Happy staff ensures happy clients. One of the ways to we can improve our field staff’s experience is by making them feel more “connected” to the organization. This is particularly important for field staff that has less contact with the office. CellTrak’s technology allows us to provide current schedules to our field staff, provide directions to clients, and reduce admin time. For administrative staff, it improves accuracy, increases productivity and allows us to manage with fewer resources.

HTM: How do you see your business changing or developing in the next 5 years? 

The Healthcare Sector continues to have larger demands, based on demographic trends. At the same time, government budgets are becoming more and more challenged. We continue to position our Home care business as an effective solution for these Healthcare needs. We need to become more responsive, more cost effective, and focus on our core competencies. Celltrak allows us to achieve each of these with confidence.

HTM: Explain a typical day in the life of a homecare agency using CellTrak technologies:

Celltrak simplifies the scheduling process by reducing phone calls and getting accurate schedules into the hands of the field staff. It reduces the need for paper time sheets and simplifies the record keeping requirements by staff. Data entry by the timekeeping department is no longer necessary. The accuracy of mileage and client/travel time is dramatically increased.

HTM: Many healthcare technology and IT organizations talk about change management during many new technology rollouts… and how “people”, not “technology”, can be the major reason implementations are unsuccessful or delivered over budget or not on time. How did it all go when Northwood Homecare implemented CellTrak?

We ensured buy in, to the technology, at all levels of the organization. This included discussions with the union, ongoing feedback from field staff and constant education and support to the users. The implementation team included representation from all departments within the organization. All questions and concerns were addressed on an ongoing basis.

HTM: Explain your Canadian home healthcare market, and the core products and services that are in demand from home healthcare providers today:

The home healthcare market continues to evolve in Canada, but it takes time. Health is funded on a Provincial basis and funding structures can differ depending on the Province. Long Term Care and Home care receive Provincial funding while other solutions differ between provinces and may rely on private services. In Nova Scotia, for example, there is growing recognition of the value of Adult Day/Dementia Day programs and Personal Emergency Response Systems. These are innovative ways to reduce costs to the health care system while achieving the goal of allowing clients to age at home.

HTM: How will your business expand in the coming 5 years and will CellTrak play a roll in that expansion?

We continue to attract new hires and grow our Hours of Service. Recruitment and retention is key to this growth. New technologies help attract younger staff and create a feeling of autonomy and connectedness for our current staff. Northwood Homecare is also looking at expanding our service to other Health Districts. Quality, cost effectiveness, worker satisfaction, effective use of technology and sector leadership are all attributes that enhance our opportunities to enter new geographic areas. Celltrak will continue to give us competitive advantages in our Sector.

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