Point of care testing (POCT) refers to testing not done in a laboratory but rather performed near a patient in acute care or resident in long term care. Instead of samples and specimens being sent away to be processed in laboratories, nurses and physicians use all the tools at their disposal to quickly process medical samples and yield results. Point of care healthcare makes it easier for patient and resident results to be acquired. This means nursing staff can make better care decisions, as the results they need are obtained quickly and reliably.
As the speed at which hospitals and long term care facilities operate has increased, so has the need for better point of care healthcare documentation. That is why many healthcare providers now use care plan software systems and long term care software systems for charting to increase the efficiency of workflows, better organize documentation, increase the accuracy of documentation, and spend less time on administrative tasks.
When facilities invest in a long term care software for charting point of care healthcare, they tend to look for the following capabilities:
- Interconnected systems with pre-configured resident data to allow for efficient workflows
- Advanced clinical systems to enable staff to streamline the point of care data management
- Efficient reporting and analytics tools for easy access to crucial resident data
- User-friendly data exchange tools for improved communication between staff members, other healthcare providers, and referral partners
- Convenient financial management systems to allow for faster reimbursements and more predictable economic outcomes
If a long term care EMR software system lacks any of these tools, the efficient delivery of point of care healthcare is not guaranteed. Furthermore, facilities run the risk of not complying with CMS regulations. This can result in the facility receiving f-tags, a lower CMS star quality rating, and damaging its reputation and its census levels.
Essential POC Nursing Tools
To implement point of care healthcare in a facility, nurses and physicians must have the necessary POC nursing tools. Some examples of the POC test tools they may need when interacting with patients and residents include:
- Blood glucose monitors
- Home pregnancy tests
- Rapid strep tests
Point of Care Software
Administrators interested in utilizing the most advanced point of care healthcare POC nursing tools at their facilities should also look to implement effective long term care software. To effectively carry out their care responsibilities to residents, nurses need to understand how to use their point of care healthcare systems in their daily rounds, ensuring residents’ needs are met. Fortunately, free online EHR training is now available.
Some of the modules that a long term care EHR software should include are:
- Point of Care Charting – An essential tool used to ensure accurate documentation at the point of care, thus delivering optimal treatments and proper reimbursements.
- Minimum Data Sets (MDS) – This tool allows authorized staff to import and export data when necessary, thus streamlining workflows by exporting data for CAAs, care plans, and billing.
- Physician Orders – A tool used to administer and track medication orders. It is an essential tool that requires accurate entries and maintenance in the care plan software to improve resident safety and reduce medication errors.
Nurses and physicians may also benefit from using the following POC nursing research and reference resources shared by Georgetown University:
- ACCESSSS: 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: ClinicalKey is a clinical search engine that nurses and physicians can use to search for books, medical journals, videos, and relevant clinical images.
- DynaMed: 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.
Point of Care Testing
In 2020, the federal government delivered approximately 5,600 point of care testing devices to nursing homes across the nation. Each POC device can conduct between ten to twenty tests per hour with a rapid fifteen-minute turnaround. Because the results are returned almost immediately, it allows physicians and nurses to detect, prevent, and manage chronic illnesses. In addition, this fully-remote testing provides real-time information about a resident’s medical condition.
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The Benefits of Point of Care Health Services
The benefits of point of care healthcare for patients or residents in nursing homes include:
- Faster access to diagnosis, allowing patients and residents to quickly get the care they need.
- Faster access to treatments due to faster diagnosis by nurses and physicians
- Less time spent in hospital
- Reduced risk of medical complications
- Faster access to imaging services for patients who may need it (pregnancies)
For the care provider, the benefits of point of care health services include:
- Reduced referrals to external providers
- Reduced crowding in emergency departments
- Faster triage
- Improved emergency department efficiency
- Reduced length of stay for patients
The Advantages of Using a Point of Care Software System
The most advanced point of care technology, like point of care software, allows physicians, nurses, and CNAs to enter patient and resident data on portable electronic devices. This is not only faster, but it eliminates poorly handwritten notes that often result in medical errors. Resident data is then stored in the facility’s long term care software system, providing easy access throughout the building for all authorized personnel.
Besides the convenience of accessing resident data, point of care healthcare charting also helps reduce the amount of paperwork, thus saving a nurse two to three hours per day. This amounts to thousands of hours each year, time that can be spent in more valuable ways like checking on residents more often.
Another advantage of point of care systems is the ability to personalize care. The most-advanced long term care EHR systems have personalization features like user-defined buttons, color-coded options, and even the option to select a preferred language like Spanish, thus, eliminating language barriers with non-native residents. These tools allow a facility to provide optimum care, minimize medical errors, and maximize compliance.
Implementing a Point of Care Software System
While long term care software can greatly improve the speed by which facilities chart their point of care healthcare, there are certain challenges that point of care still faces, including:
- Differences in methodologies used in point of care testing
- The difficulty of monitoring the storage of medical supplies and reagents
- Test results obtained in point of care testing may not be comparable to laboratory tests
In addition, the cost of implementing a long term care EHR may turn off some nursing home administrators. However, once the nursing home software is implemented, the software will quickly pay for itself, as it drastically improves a facility’s finances, particularly if the long term care EHR also includes practical financial management tools that allow a facility to manage its reimbursements, fixed assets, payroll, and resident funds, all with minimal effort.
Another issue that must be resolved before implementing a point of care software system is the compatibility of POC nursing devices. Some LTC software systems are only compatible with certain brands and products like iOS devices. This can result in a facility spending more money to upgrade their devices so that they can be used with the long term care software. Therefore, a facility must determine if its devices are compatible with the software in advance.
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Finally, when introducing point of care healthcare devices and long term care EHR software, it should be remembered that all staff members will require a level of training like point of care CNA training so that each member of the staff understands the different functions and tools they need to perform their roles.
It is beneficial for facilities to identify their tech-savvy users, or “super users,” and ask them to provide additional support for other team members. Studies show that when facilities encourage their super users to spend more time in the super user role, this helps to develop more positive attitudes towards the role and ultimately increases the positive attitudes of other staff members.
The Value of Point of Care Healthcare
The value of point of care healthcare is manifold, both clinically and financially. The clinical benefits of using POC nursing tools lie in the fact that patients and residents have a reduced number of clinical visits, a reduced length of hospital stay, and better-optimized drug treatments
Point of care software also improves the workflow and efficiency of point of care healthcare. Furthermore, LTC software also has financial benefits in that it reduces paperwork, facilitates funding processes like PDPM reimbursement, streamlines tracking, and organizes reports so that administrators can easily understand their financial records. These ensure that a facility runs like clockwork and can, then, focus on improving outcomes and resident satisfaction.
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