Special Projects Fund

Grantee Name

Loyola University of Chicago (Initially granted to Rochester Institute of Technology and then transferred)

Funding Area

Special Projects Fund

Publication Date

August 2016

Grant Amount


Grant Date:

January 2011 – November 2015

Home health care is an important component of New York State’s health care system.

To make the best use of their providers, home care agencies must have a strategic and clear process to deliver care and services efficiently. Past approaches to scheduling and routing home care visits have often been manual, inefficient, and cumbersome.

Software tailored to home care agencies had potential to increase efficiencies, but much of the developed software systems were expensive and difficult to integrate with other existing systems. Further complicating matters, previous tools also had been unable to take into account the needs and preferences of patients and caregivers.

In 2011, NYHealth awarded a grant to the Rochester Institute of Technology to partner with four home health care agencies to develop and test an intelligent routing software system that would help New York’s home health agencies improve their processes for assigning and scheduling home health visits. The project’s lead manager subsequently left Rochester and joined Loyola University of Chicago (LUC); the grant was then transferred to LUC so he could complete the already underway project.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

  • Developed and implemented an algorithm for scheduling and routing home health care providers;
  • Used the algorithm to show a 5% theoretical reduction in miles traveled by home health care providers and up to a 15% reduction in the number of nurses needed;
  • Developed a tool that allows an organization to estimate how enforcing provider and appointment time consistency could impact a provider’s costs;
  • Developed a working prototype of software based on functional requirements identified during interviews with potential users; and
  • Designed a database that stores the software’s data.

The project was successful in creating the algorithm and developing a working prototype, but it was unsuccessful in having home health agencies implement the software. LUC chose a new software development platform that at the time seemed promising because it was thought to be easier to install at health care agency sites and better for use on mobile devices. However, LUC found that the software it had developed was more complicated for the platform chosen to implement it. Ultimately, it would be too time-consuming and inefficient to proceed with this development platform.

LUC also misjudged its staffing needs for the project—employing students to assist with the work, particularly during the software development phase. Although the students were helpful in working on the early phases of the project, they were not at the skill level needed for the software implementation phase, and the project stalled as a result. Because of these circumstances, the software development component of the project was not a success and did not yield a product that home health care agencies could benefit from.