Last month, nursing homes in Maryland reported an astronomical rise in infections of the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus. In addition to vaccinating staff members, long-term care facilities are using electronic health records from vendors like Experience Care to help combat the spread of potentially fatal infections to America’s seniors.
Back in July, fewer than 10 Maryland nursing homes had outbreaks of COVID-19. By early August, that number skyrocketed to 33. And at the start of September, the total nearly tripled again, with 92 nursing homes reporting outbreaks. This is just one example of the reemergence of the fatal virus among the nation’s most vulnerable population. From mid-July to mid-August, the number of nursing homes in Texas with active cases of COVID-19 ascended from 56 to 489.
Vaccinating staff members is the first step being taken by many facilities. But that has posed challenges, as many nurses refuse to get vaccinated, creating an unprecedented staffing crisis.
In the midst of this turmoil, nursing homes have found another option for preventing outbreaks: implementing and utilizing electronic health records (EHRs) to identify COVID-19 heat maps and act quickly upon the observance of concerning signs.
Features like a key performance indicators (KPI) dashboard allow facilities to view any potential warning signs in one place and choose a course of action far earlier than was possible on paper. “Our dashboard monitors symptoms and then collates lists of residents with diarrhea or a fever, two of the symptoms of the delta variant so that nurses can catch cases days in advance,” said Charles Oliver, the director of customer success at Texas-based Experience Care (www.experience.care). As a result, Oliver noted, diagnoses happen much more rapidly, and infected residents can be separated from the others before it is too late.
EHRs also allow facilities to see who has and has not been vaccinated and print out heat maps that show nurses how the symptoms of residents in certain sections of the facility compare with those of others so as to better prevent outbreaks. In the case of Experience Care, many measures were determined to be helpful during user meetings with the leadership team. “We discuss infection control strategies in our user groups each month,” Oliver said. “From basic management to placing vaccinated patients in one hall and unvaccinated individuals in another, these meetings allow leaders to share the strategies that work for them.”
Such modern measures offer new hope for an industry that has been ravaged by a virus that puts seniors in great danger and a staffing crisis exacerbated by debates over President Joe Biden’s vaccination mandate for nursing homes.
About Experience Care LLC: Founded in 1969, Experience Care LLC is one of the largest providers of electronic health records, revenue cycle management, and financial systems to skilled nursing facilities, assisted living, continuing care retirement communities, long-term acute care, and other long-term care organizations in the U.S. Experience Care’s mission is to make every long-term care organization a fulfilling place to live and work by helping maximize financial success and compliance to achieve the best teams, care, and outcomes.