A point of care system (POC) includes technology such as bedside terminals, hand-held tablets, PCs, and software used by nurses and physicians to capture all needed medical information from patients or residents at the point where the patient receives their care. A point of care system allows nurses and physicians to collect, chart, and review medical information. They can then make any needed changes to the resident’s care plan using their care plan software.
A point of care system is particularly advantageous in capturing resident information over the use of paper records. It is, for this reason, that point of care systems are sometimes referred to by physicians as Electronic Health Records (EHR), though they are used in slightly different cases.
A point of care system is used in:
- A hospital’s emergency department
- Long term care facilities (nursing homes, assisted living, and skilled nursing facilities)
- Physician offices
- Intensive care units
- Home health
Electronic Health Records (EHRs), on the other hand, serve as a digital version of resident charts. They are built for information storage and sharing in laboratories, nursing homes, SNFs, pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics.
Point of care systems are the future of healthcare, for they allow for data to be captured electronically, enabling its quick analysis. Below, we list some of the benefits that have resulted from the adoption of point of care systems into healthcare.
7 Benefits of Point of Care Technology in Healthcare
Point of care technology, when used in collaboration with other long term care software, has a wide range of benefits. Some of these benefits include:
- Reduced referrals to external healthcare providers: This is because point of care technology facilitates point of care testing, enabling nurses and physicians to carry out diagnostic tests at a resident’s bedside.
- Faster access to treatments: Point of care testing—which can be easily performed with the use of a point of care system—enables nurses and physicians to carry out diagnostic tests next to residents. This allows for quick diagnoses and faster treatment of illnesses and other medical conditions.
- Reduced length of stay for patients: For patients in hospitals, point of care technology results in quicker diagnoses and quicker treatments. This greatly benefits the patient by shortening their hospital stays, and it benefits the hospital by freeing up beds for more critical patients.
- Reduced risk of medical complications: The best point of care system comes with a number of tools that can alert nurses and physicians of drug interactions and can provide medical references for quick answers to their questions. Examples of these tools include:
- ACCESSSS, is a federated search engine that seeks to answer one simple question that nurses and physicians may ask: “What is the current best evidence available to support clinical decisions?” Developed by McMaster University, this tool serves as a one-stop-shop for access to evidence-based studies, guidelines, and Systematic Reviews.
- ClinicalKey, is a clinical search engine that nurses and physicians can use to search for books, medical journals, videos, and relevant clinical images.
- DynaMed, is an electronic evidence-based database that is designed to provide useful information to nurses and physicians. For example, the DynaMed Drug Interactions tool enables nurses to quickly and easily determine potentially harmful drug interactions.
- Faster access to imaging services: Point of care technology can enable quick booking of medical scanning services and allow for results to be received remotely.
- Less paperwork: All medical information is stored electronically. This means that nursing homes and other long term care facilities do not have to spend money on paper, storage of paperwork, or on the maintenance of paper records. Further, their processes are expedited and more organized.
- Better communication: A point of care system, when used in combination with other nursing home software modules, allows for better transfer of information between the nursing home and external providers. This prevents miscommunication of medical information.
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Tips for Choosing POC Software
Nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities interested in implementing a point of care system should consider the following tips:
- Create a list of requirements: Facilities will have different requirements for their point of care system. For example, an independent living facility would highly prioritize point of care systems that are portable (hand-held tablets). Also, they would require POC software with a cloud-based database. A nursing home, on the other hand, may prefer wall-mounted PCs that can easily be accessed in a hallway and POC software that comes with user-restricted accounts.
- Analyze the facility’s budget: POC software is not cheap. The more software features a facility is looking for, the higher the cost of the software. Hence, administrators should carefully consider their budgets and choose software that meets most of their requirements while still remaining affordable.
- Check the point of care documentation: Documentation is one of the most important aspects of any long term care software. Nursing home administrators need to ensure their POC software has effective documentation and reporting capabilities.
- Ensure the POC software is HIPAA compliant: One of the benefits of point of care technology in nursing is data security. Software that is HIPAA compliant has met all federal regulations safeguarding the protection of resident medical information and can be safely used by long term care providers.
- Demo the software: Demoing software is one of the best ways to test a POC software and gain familiarity with its features. This way, the facility can determine whether or not the POC software meets all of their requirements.
- Analyze customer support: Customer support should never be overlooked. When demoing POC software, staff in a long term care facility should reach out to the software vendor and test the level of customer support offered.
- Review the contract: If a facility has settled on a POC software for their facility, they should have the facility lawyer review and explain all of the legal bindings in the contract to the nursing home administrator. In addition, nursing homes should negotiate fair contracts that allow them to discontinue the long term care software should it fail to deliver on its claimed features.
- Allocate time for implementation and training: Installation of POC software can be a technical, time-consuming affair. Customer support from the software vendor is crucial to ensure proper software implementation. Also, staff should receive training as needed.
The Importance of a Point of Care System
A point of care system in long term care is extremely advantageous. Not only do SNFs avoid disorganization and paperwork, but they also benefit from better resident care, due to quick diagnoses and treatments facilitated by point of care healthcare.
Multiple healthcare facilities use point of care systems to improve their processes, resulting in better patient and resident outcomes. When introducing a point of care system into a facility, administrators should ensure the POC software meets all of their requirements. They should, however, remember to look for POC software that is within their budget and that comes with excellent customer support.