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In 2019, the senior population (65 years and older) in America was at approximately 16 percent of the American population. This means that there are currently around 51.4 million seniors, and this figure is expected to have increased by 21.6 percent in 2040. 

With the knowledge that America’s population is rapidly aging, in 2021, the Biden Administration announced a nationwide package to improve the country’s healthcare infrastructure. In it was an ambitious $400 billion package to expand Medicaid funding and other eligible beneficiaries. The package aims to be more inclusive, catering to the long term care industry, Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs), home care, and community-based care for seniors. 

A physician using electronic health records in long term care facilities.
Using electronic health records in long term care facilities reduces paperwork.

This package brings some much-needed positive news to the long term care industry, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic, which hit long term care particularly hard, along with the negative press associated with senior living facilities. This investment aims to help the millions of low-income seniors who need care and assistance and the direct caregivers who are expected to see a long-overdue salary increase. 

A study from County Health Rankings and Roadmaps indicates that providing caregivers with more financial security will improve staff retention and recruitment, which is particularly important during the current staffing crisis. Other studies suggest poor pay, low staffing, and work overload are some of the reasons nurses and certified nursing assistants (CNAs) report high-stress levels, which consequently impact their job satisfaction, workflow productivity, and quality of care given to seniors. 

Clearly, the industry needs to find a solution that will reduce stress for direct caregivers with the hope of recruiting and retaining new caregivers in better working conditions. The clearest path to reducing caregiver stress, improving workflow efficiency, and elevating the quality of care is adopting electronic health records in long term care facilities. 

3 Benefits of Electronic Medical Records for Nursing Homes 

The adoption of electronic medical records for nursing homes has steadily increased over time, most likely gaining popularity because of the many benefits this technology brings. 

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) continuously advocates for long term care EHR, encouraging the development, implementation, and adoption of electronic health records for long term care facilities. Between 2012 and 2016, there was an increase of 6 percent in the number of residential care communities using EHRs. Meanwhile, data from 2019 to 2021 suggests a 92 percent EHR adoption rate in acute long term care facilities. 

Some of the benefits that have spurred this policy include: 

1. Reduced Paperwork

Caregivers are no longer required to manually write and update resident records, which was both time-consuming and error-prone. Instead, caregivers have adopted electronic health records in long term care facilities that are compatible with portable, handheld devices. This allows them to move between residents while accessing their information quickly and updating care plans as needed. Nurses can now view resident care plans—in their entirety—on a single screen, thus eliminating the need for facilities to print forms, charts, or other types of data.  

2. Increased Accuracy in Clinical Documentation

A nurse is using electronic medical records for nursing homes to improve the accuracy of clinical documentation.
Electronic medical records for nursing homes improve clinical documentation.

One of the biggest advantages of using electronic medical records for nursing homes is the improved communication between healthcare providers. Every resident has a medical history, so coordinating care can be complicated if the facility clinician does not have the latest medical information, and the end result could be medical errors. When healthcare providers adopt an efficient long term care EHR system, they can share resident information via the EHR more easily and more accurately, enabling clinicians to make more informed medical decisions based on the facts.

3. Reduced Unnecessary Tests and Procedures

Another benefit of using electronic health records in long term care facilities is the better coordination between different healthcare providers. When a healthcare provider orders a medical test or procedure for a patient, the results will be documented in the patient’s electronic medical records. By the time the patient arrives in the facility, the clinicians will be able to view what tests were ordered along with the results, thus eliminating the need to repeat the same test. 

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Adopting Nursing Home Electronic Medical Records

With the aging baby boomers generation fast approaching retirement and life expectancy increasing, industry expert Dr. Frank J. Newlands—founder and CEO of South Carolina and Florida-based Physicians Services Group—predicts that the long term care industry will flourish in the near future. 

That means facilities that do not adopt nursing home electronic medical records may experience difficulty in competing with more innovative facilities that have embraced long term care software. Such facilities risk being left behind technologically and suffering from the negative consequences of paper documentation. Thus, investing in electronic health records in long term care facilities is the most logical step, especially if nursing homes want to stay competitive. 

A nurse is using the nursing home electronic medical records to determine if a resident needs a medical test or procedure.
Nursing home electronic medical records reduce unnecessary tests and procedures.

Studies show that the impact of electronic health records on long term care facilities has proven to enhance the quality of care and documentation management if the long term care EHR software is appropriately implemented, used, and maintained. Additionally, in light of the pandemic, the long term care industry is placing greater emphasis on workflow efficiency. 

For these reasons, long term care software with cloud-based integration, compatibility with handheld devices, standardized processes, better access to electronic medical records for nursing homes, and nursing software programs have become even more popular. The most efficient nursing home software systems can automate and speed up processes like admissions, discharges, and transfers (ADT), PDPM reimbursements, and creating personalized care plan charts by integrating resident data. 

Electronic Health Records in Long Term Care Facilities Are a Long-Term Solution 

In today’s digital world and the ever-increasing adoption of electronic health records in long term care facilities, the expectations of healthcare providers and caregivers have been raised, and, subsequently, the expectations of residents and their families have been raised as well. 

As technology continues to improve, there will be an increased reliance on nursing home software as more facilities adopt electronic medical records. Furthermore, with more processes become automated and perfected, there will be a steady rise in job satisfaction in the industry, as the daily workflow and efficiency of caregivers will continue to improve, allowing them to spend more time with their residents. 

For more on recent trends in long term care, read our blog and subscribe to the LTC Heroes podcast