Are you planning to rely on paper care records in 2015? Can you afford to? Competition is increasing. You need to deliver cost-effectively, but you also need to satisfy the CQC and commissioners. Electronic care records can help you deliver better & safer care while reducing cost. We look at the the benefit of digitalising care plans:
One version of the truth
“Is this the most recent care plan? When was the medication assessment last completed?” Care delivery is often complex, it can be a matter of life or death. An individual’s need is constantly changing and many people are involved in care delivery, both professionals, commissioners as well as family or informal carers.
Electronic care planning will ensure that all stakeholders have access to the current, updated care plan and relevant records. If a service user has had a fall or refused medication, this is likely to be important to know for a number of stakeholders so that appropriate action can be taken.
Subject to consent, electronic care records can easily be made available to nurses and care workers in the field – on smartphones or tablets – and to supervisors in the office; increasingly commissioners and family members will also want to view outcomes or evidence of care delivered.
Ensure consistency, monitor compliance
“How do I know it’s done?” Unfortunately, paper records can’t jump up and alert you to the fact that a particular assessment has not been completed. It is hard enough if you are managing staff in a clinic or in the office, but much harder if you are managing a workforce delivering care out of sight. How can a clinical director or registered manager rest assured that the medication policy is actually complied with or that the care worker has actually completed the regular nutritional assessment?
With electronic care management, it is much easier to ensure consistency and compliance with the agreed care plan. Activities in the field can be monitored in real-time and it is easy to run reports on the level of compliance and identify issues that need to be escalated.
The result? Electronic care management puts you in control. You immediately know if an assessment has been missed whether you are in the office or on the road. Not only can you deliver safer and better care, the actual cost of delivery is also reduced (more on that later).
“How can I demonstrate outcomes to my commissioner?” Commissioners both in health and social care are increasingly focusing on ‘outcomes’. Paper records may work if all you are doing is delivering task and time. It becomes near impossible, if you are trying to measure a time series of changes in say a pain score or independence.
With electronic care management, you can design individual forms to capture base-line data and outcomes making it easy to document value and report back to your commissioners.
With the ability to track outcomes you can both document value to commissioners and look to benchmark different teams or approaches to help you fine-tune your services to deliver the best possible outcomes at the lowest possible cost.
Return-on-investment: Reduce your operating costs
Have you tried to calculate the costs of operating on paper? The paper-cost itself is not trivial, but the real cost is in increased operating risk, lost productivity of front-line staff and bloating admin and back-office work.
The cost and distraction of having to deal with a crisis due to a break-down in care delivery can be immense. A service user ending up in hospital because medication checks were not completed or a headline in the local newspaper about failure to spot pressure sores may close the door on further business from the local commissioner. Liability associated with legal action could keep branch managers and directors up all night trying to gather evidence.
Imagine front-line staff shuttling between service users and the office with reams of paper. Often capturing data in the field with pen and paper and then re-keying some data into a computer in the office, making print-outs, sending out copies, updating paper copies, re-keying, sending out new copies. Before you know it, nurses or care coordinators are spending only a fraction of their time actually in front of a service user or patient.
In the back-office, operating on paper you need to hire more people to help out with admin. To ensure consistency, internal quality control will need to request paper files and you get little scale benefits. You can manage a much greater volume of service users or packages without having to increase admin or back office staff. consistent service and monitoring compliance is significantly reduced.
Further information from psHEALTH
See how the psMOBILE 2.0 App works in the field. Click on the image below.
Newsletter on CQC and compliance click here
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