The Most Common Questions About Long Term Care Software
As with all computerized systems, SNF software is only as good as the work of its designers, developers, and support team. Here are some of the most common issues users face:
How much does an EHR system cost?
It depends on how much you want to invest. If you want a full suite, you should set aside tens of thousands of dollars for implementation, training, hardware, and the modules themselves. Of course, you can save a significant amount annually by only selecting the modules you need in a hybrid (paper/electronic) solution. For instance, you may just want to maximize reimbursements for PDPM and thus only select the physician orders, eCharting (eMAR and eTAR), point of care, resident assessments, and accounts receivable modules in the software system. Your care plans, progress notes, UDAs, labs, radiology, and pharmacy communication would still be on paper. Regardless of what you spend, rest assured that the investment will pay for itself within one year on account of more accurate and efficient documentation.
How quickly can I expect to see better outcomes?
By increasing communication and the documentation of matters related to compliance, you can expect to see better survey results within months. This is because an EHR can be updated ad hoc and reports can be viewed instantly, which increases the visibility you have of your residents and their activities. That means you will be able to respond to their needs and catch compliance issues more quickly than you would by reviewing page after page. For instance, if one is diagnosed with epilepsy, you can immediately go to the system and see that your facility does not have the appropriate foam guards. Or a resident may have been taking an antipsychotic drug while in acute care but only for insomnia. You will quickly notice the lack of a proper diagnosis in your EHR upon admission and then know to either discharge the medication or request that your facility’s medical director give a proper diagnosis so as to avoid an f-tag.
Within months, by increasing communication and improving documentation related to compliance, facilities can expect to see better survey results.
Do smaller, local facilities really need an EHR?
Yes. Regardless of the size of a facility, long term care is always held to the same standards and regulations. And currently, with the ongoing pandemic and staffing crisis, smaller facilities can actually decrease the financial burden posed upon them on account of being shorthanded by way of the added efficiency an EHR provides. Instead of sitting at a desk and looking through paper charts to search for errors or discrepancies then making corrections by hand and finally providing written summaries, nurses can simply enter updated resident information into their long term care software and have the rest of the staff notified immediately. This saves caretakers hours upon hours each day. Lastly, smaller facilities may not need to spend as much on hardware or training, which makes the EHR fall within their budget constraints.
What if my staff finds electronic charting too difficult?
One of the biggest headaches of using long term care software can be learning to use the system. When facilities look to upgrade or implement a new EHR system, a significant feature they should look for is the user-friendliness of the software. An intuitive point of care system with an electronic Kardex goes a long way in helping facilitate the transition from paper records. Such systems, designed with the user in mind, mean less confusion, frustration, and wasted time for your team.
Test-driving the EHR will help you figure out which is most appropriate for your organization. After you decide upon a product, inquire as to the level of training provided. You might find that the vendor offers free online EHR training , which has been shown to increase compliance by up to 40% and significantly speed up the implementation process.
How will I get help when I need it?
When your whole business relies on your software it can be scary to imagine, or worse yet, finding yourself up the creek without a paddle. Though most all long term care software vendors offer support, the speed and quality can vary wildly between companies. Choosing a company with high customer satisfaction scores and guaranteed response times can mean the difference between your software being an enemy and an ally.
What if the system freezes or crashes?
If you regularly encounter system outages, glitches, and seemingly random errors, you will find yourself longing for the old days of pen and paper. The good news is that the best nursing home software vendors have guaranteed uptime, making your chances of a software crash minuscule. Experience Care users benefit from an uptime of 99.99% and 95% of their high-priority issues are resolved within 48 hours. Paired with an excellent support team, a truly reliable long term care software provider will leave you worry-free in this department.
How long will it take to train my staff on the system?
There is a learning curve on any software, but a user-friendly system will be easier to learn. Still, you can expect to need about two hours of training for CNAs and about six hours for floor nurses. Further, when staff turnover is high, it can be challenging to find the time and resources to train a new employee. If your software company charges you per hour or per training, the costs can add up quickly.
Fortunately, some LTC software vendors offer free online training for every staff member. Additionally, if you choose a software company that has high-quality, free unlimited support, you won’t have to worry about the strain on your team’s time or your facility’s pocketbook.
Will my SNF’s data be compromised?
After hearing about data breaches in the news and lawsuits for millions of dollars, this is surely something that has crossed the mind of anyone responsible for a nursing home’s electronic medical records. Know that data security is something that long term care software vendors take very seriously. That is why all IP addresses used for the EHR must first be whitelisted, which prevents people from logging in using your information when outside the facility.
All healthcare software must meet government standards and requirements for data security.
Facility managers can have peace of mind knowing that all healthcare software must meet standards set in place by government agencies and that many systems go beyond those requirements in terms of data security. The safest option is to choose a hosted system, meaning that the data is stored, protected, and managed 24/7 by a team of trained professionals with multiple layers of digital and physical security. Experience Care employs healthcare experts and IT specialists that are responsible for maintaining servers, performing backups, installing upgrades, and providing proactive health management. When migrating data to a cloud, users can rest assured that their data is secured by way of polymorphic encryption, which means you never use the same encryption key twice.
The premier data center of Experience Care in Atlanta, Georgia offers unrivaled security. It is engineered with carrier-class uninterruptible and backup power. Fully redundant power supplies connect to multiple power feeds through multiple power-provided substations. Advanced cooling and humidity controls provide continuous environmental controls. Around-the-clock monitoring ensures that all systems are fully operational. A fire suppression system works in collaboration with heat and smoke detection and continuous air sampling. These are connected directly to an industry-leading Ipv6-compliant, Tier-one, global IP network backbone, ensuring that your IT systems and applications provide the high performance and response time you require.
Will my facility be liable for identity theft if it uses eSignatures during admissions?
An arbitration agreement that is signed using an eSignature is more likely to be fraudulent. This is because of the “click to sign” option that does not ask the signer to use their own handwriting. One security measure that long term care software vendors use to prevent fraud is requesting identification before the signing ceremony. Another measure is to email the agreement to the individual and then require them to receive a verification code via a text message before they can open it and sign it.
How will residents take to their information being processed and stored electronically?
While some residents may be nervous or confused when they see a nurse with a tablet or laptop instead of a pen and paper, this can often be overcome by taking the time to explain the reason for the change and the benefits to residents. Encouraging residents to participate in making a care plan while using easy to understand language can help make everyone more comfortable with a new form of note-taking. Residents and their families can meet in the conference room with nurses to update care plans in an open and inclusive environment.