Implementing electronic medical records for nursing homes is not just about adopting a new software system. The process also involves changing attitudes, upskilling the existing nursing staff, and meeting all legal and compliance measures. That is why training is so essential; digital tools like long term care software can improve resident safety, increase workflow efficiency, and improve the quality of care, but to realize these benefits, nursing homes must adequately know how to use their long term care EHR.
Unfortunately, digital transformation in healthcare lags behind other industries in part because selected skeptics working in healthcare are resistant to change. Therefore, before electronic medical records for nursing homes are implemented, nursing homes must first address the negative associations linked with using digital tools. They must get the staff on board so they understand the benefits of long term care EHR and how it can improve their daily workflows and resident care.
Fortunately, change in long term care technology is on the horizon. The slow pace of transitioning from paper to electronic records has, of course, been somewhat accelerated by recent events, like the COVID pandemic. Further, while digital transformation in healthcare may be slow, long term care innovation and technological adoption are gradually increasing.
There have already been encouraging results. Nursing homes that have adopted electronic medical records have seen a positive change and a noticeable difference in workflow efficiency on routine tasks, such as updating resident care plans. Some nurses have reported that they save up to three hours a day on documentation, amounting to over five hundred hours a year.
Such time-efficient processes positively impact the level of care given, as caregivers have considerably more time to spend with residents. This allows them to pay more attention to residents needs, consequently being more attuned to residents’ health conditions.
Barriers to Implementing Long Term Care EMR Software
As mentioned earlier, one challenge to implementing long term care EMR software is the long term care staff’s negative perceptions and reluctance to change. However, as the American population ages, the need for more senior care is inevitable. This means nursing homes must adapt—by implementing nursing home software—to survive and keep up with the demand.
Some of the barriers to implementing electronic medical records for nursing homes include:
- Outdated IT Infrastructure – Facilities that have not moved onto a cloud-based, long term care software system often experience technical failures and breakdowns. This limits the speed and efficiency of staff workflow, as they cannot access important data when needed, which can put the residents at risk of medical errors. Furthermore, it also causes unnecessary stress on the staff, which affects their mental health and overall work satisfaction.
- Cyber Security Threats – Skeptics who are reluctant to adopt long term care EHR may cite that long term care software brings added cyber security risks, especially because in recent times, cyber security threats have increased in frequency. Reports claim that healthcare providers experience twice as many cyber attacks as other industries. This is because healthcare providers have an abundance of sensitive patient data and antiquated cyber security measures. Increased Government Regulations – The long term care industry has always been highly regulated. However, with the constant changes in regulations, such as the HITECH Act and the HIPAA Privacy Rule make it difficult for healthcare providers to stay on top of the latest regulation changes.
- Insufficient Facility Devices – While long term care software can improve efficiency, it can only do so with the proper equipment and compatible medical devices. If facilities have not updated their electronic devices, it is likely that the staff cannot maximize the long term care EMR software and all its features.
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4 Essential Features of Nursing Home EMR
If an organization can navigate the challenges above, it will find that nursing home EMR software presents significant advantages and that, indeed, electrical medical records for nursing homes are worth it in the long run.
Ideally, the impact of electronic health records in long term care is that it enhances the quality of care in a nursing facility. But that is not always a guarantee. It is important to choose the right long term care EMR software system, or, one that, at the very least, has the following features:
1. State-of-the-Art Physician Orders
An effective nursing home charting system will have a state-of-the-art Physician Orders module, as it is of utmost importance to record residents’ care plans and medication orders accurately and efficiently. Failure to do so will result in medication errors that can seriously harm residents.
Physician Order processes are typically complicated because they need to integrate with other applications, such as eCharting, ePrescribing, and clinical decision support. Therefore, a Physician Orders Summary page must display all the essential information and helpful tools that enable a caregiver to move between the applications precisely and easily.
2. Efficient eDocuments Database
One of the biggest grievances caregivers have is documentation. If facilities are still using paper documentation, caregivers must sift through piles of paperwork, not to mention decipher illegible, handwritten notes. However, an efficient long term care software will dramatically improve a facility’s documentation processes and accessibility due to it storing resident records electronically and on a centralized cloud-based system.
Furthermore, because resident records are now updated into eDocuments, caregivers can access necessary data anywhere and at any time. This dramatically improves workflow efficiency, allowing nurses to offer personalized care based on the resident’s care plan.
3. Modern Compatible Devices
One of the most significant advantages of using electronic medical records for nursing homes is the convenience of documenting care at the point of care. To maximize the capabilities of a care plan software system, caregivers must be able to move fluidly between residents and update care plans in real-time.
Therefore, using wireless medical devices allows caregivers to record and update resident information more accurately at the point of care. This function is beneficial when caregivers have a high patient-to-nurse ratio because they can capture and update resident information easily and quickly, resulting in better resident outcomes and reduced medical errors.
4. Improved Communication
Communication has always been an issue in healthcare. Caregivers work on rotational shifts, which means that resident information is often updated sporadically and by multiple caregivers. This is why it is essential to have an electronic Kardex system, which enhances the documentation process, making charting easier, and improving communication between caregivers.
An electronic Kardex is ultimately an interdisciplinary communication tool that gives a complete picture of a resident’s medical history. It also has a useful function allowing caregivers to set important alerts that are displayed when a user logs into the care plan software system. This means that resident-specific information is displayed and acknowledged by a caregiver, ensuring all authorized staff are notified of important information.
The Importance of Using Electronic Medical Records for Nursing Homes
Adopting electronic medical records for nursing homes is essential because caregivers do not work in a single location but rather throughout the facility, tending to different residents. This means that they need to be able to access resident information from multiple locations. Having an efficient long term care EHR software system in place will alleviate caregivers’ stress and improve workflow efficiency, as caregivers can access resident records conveniently via wireless medical devices.
Furthermore, if facilities can improve a caregiver’s workflow processes, it will also improve their work satisfaction because they have fewer administrative duties. Overall, it will allow them to spend more time with residents and provide a higher quality of care, which is a significant factor behind why they joined the long term care industry in the first place. It has been shown that using an intuitive and efficient EHR can improve staff retention dramatically.
It’s undeniable that nursing home software quickens clinical, financial, and operational processes. And the long term care industry is already stretched thin by the staffing shortage and high resident-to-nurse ratios. Therefore, anything a facility can do to lessen the workload will mean caregivers can improve resident care and find more workplace contentment.