In 2007, a computer programmer was approached with a request “Develop a tool to help IDD (Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities) service providers securely keep track of their deadlines and documentation”. The providers mandated that the tool:
The programmer was intrigued by the possibility for using an online platform to innovate an industry that was incredibly paper-driven.
Securing support and funding from family and friends, he collaborated with the requestor, a provider of Home and Community-based Services, gathering clinical and workflow analysis information.
His fundamental approach was that to truly deliver a product that complemented the way IDD service providers worked he would first have to fully comprehend what their work day was like. So he spent over 2 years, working alongside the provider’s team, observing data entry, analyzing records, reviewing documents, completing forms, and interviewing staff. Hours turned into days, days into weeks and weeks into months as he shadowed Case Managers, nurses, supervisors and billing staff, even spending time in the group home and day hab settings figuring out the program’s global needs.
This total immersion allowed him to determine the needs of service providers, their pain points and the potential barriers to introducing an online solution tailored specifically for them. He quickly became conversant with program rules and requirements and the IDD service environment as a whole. As time progressed he was able to form relationships with other providers who were intrigued by his work and this enabled to him to gain an even more nuanced understanding of each provider’s unique challenges.
Listening to these IDD service providers helped him draw up the plans for a product that first and foremost conformed to the workflow processes of providers; a health record system that did NOT force providers to significantly change their day to day processes to accommodate a rigid EHR built for general purposes.
As all care flows up from the direct support staff level, special attention was paid to ensure that all direct care providers have an extremely user-friendly, uncluttered online interface to work from. This promotes short training times, quick on-boarding and consistent use amongst care staff. This commitment to an intuitive and practical design is visible throughout the platform.
In 2009, he called upon the expertise of the IDD service provider partners to assist him in mapping out the different components of the system. Together, they determined that not one, but two platforms were needed – one for administrators and professional staff, and a second, simpler yet connected version to be used by direct care providers. The project was arduous, requiring determination and hundreds of hours of screen time to create, test, re-code, and test again.
Finally, in 2011, he and his team agreed that they’d arrived at a product that met the original mandate, and Focused Software’s Electronic Health Record (EHR) was released initially in Texas then in other states. Over the next several years, he and his team met with even more providers, demonstrating the system and developing relationships founded on the continuous improvement apparent in the Focused Software system. Out of these ongoing collaborations the EHR grew to incorporate state form replicas and added functional capacity, improving with input from each new end user. Through regulatory changes, state office transformations, and the introduction of new forms and processes, Focused Software continues to provide superior service to the providers it proudly serves.
The software has grown from a simple record creation and deadline reminder application to a comprehensive solution that enables providers to plan, communicate, train, collaborate, and efficiently implement services for people with IDD.
The company and its EHR remain an exceptional fit for the IDD service industry, because the core Focused Software business model remains one of continued partnership, innovation and symbiosis. Each customer/partner is valued – everyone has a voice, receives appropriate support, and is encouraged. The Focused Software team is committed to learning from end users, funneling resources into the development of new features and solutions, creating efficiencies, and facilitating a higher quality of service to people with IDD through the effective use of its EHR.
In 2018, 57 updates and new features were added to the EHR: these improvements are primarily the result of listening to providers, incorporating tailored innovations, and refining existing functions. In 2019 we added another 37!
What’s next? 2020 promises to be an exciting year. Focused Software is poised to expand beyond current boundaries in order to continue to provide relevant and practical solutions in new places and for new programs.
Join Focused and let’s soar together as partners in the future of IDD service provision!