Balance and efficiency in seniors housing have always been the hardest-to-achieve goals of the post-acute care continuum. Electronic health record (EHR) software, integrated with existing technologies, can both promote consistency and save staff time. Once fully integrated, care platforms can create a cascade effect where purpose-built technologies improve the system of care: easier interfaces improve health records, analyze resident data and predict problems before they happen. Better records and data analytics save staff time and effort, so they can focus on improving care.
Applying Technology to Post-Acute Issues
Post-acute EHR software is being called upon to solve issues like:
- Nutrition management — capturing residents’ specific dietary needs and reducing food cost and waste.
- Point-of-sale solutions — managing amenities across the community while providing a consistent way to log revenue.
- Data and analytics tools — providing meaningful insights, which leads to better decision-making for both managing business and offering resident care.
- Connected health platforms — delivering access to patient history from multiple referral sources, for better transitions and overall resident care.
- Care coordination platforms — improving communication among residents, family members and members of the care team. Enabling residents to take an active role in their health.
- Workforce management tools — assisting with scheduling resources as needed. Promoting staff collaboration while empowering staff to pickup/drop/trade shifts.
Keeping residents healthy by tracking important information (including falls and nutrition) as well as allowing staff to concentrate on interactions rather than billing or documentation makes for an overall healthier environment.
But the list of demands for technology is growing ever longer. “Our customers are trying to build more efficiencies and make better use of technology,” explains Eric Grunden, Chief Customer Officer at MatrixCare. “Customers are struggling with staffing, but they are also having to track things that they’ve never thought about having to track before, including vaccination statuses, COVID test results, visitations and more. Technology can help with that as well.”
Solving Staffing Difficulties
With labor shortages and a growing demand for detail-oriented, long-term approaches to post-acute care, it would be easy to think that implementing and updating an EHR software would be a drain on staff time.
In reality, says Ingrid Svensson, Chief Product Officer at MatrixCare, EHRs can contribute a great deal towards building an effective system for resident care without drastically changing existing workflow processes. “We’re looking for ways to create efficiencies by leveraging technology. We do that in a couple of ways. One is through the user experience itself, by ensuring that we understand the unique workflows that each care setting has. The second way is by replicating much of what people are already used to, whether they are particularly tech savvy or not. There needs to be an intuitive workflow, plus enough alerts, flags and triggers to make sure nothing is lost.”
“Our goal is for people to be able to do their work without having the tools and the technology be their work. That way they can provide the best care for their residents,” explains Svensson.
An important factor for caregivers is having a centralized system that takes the information they already document — falls, activity, vitals, visitors and more — and translates that dynamic information into a single dashboard.
The dashboard provides alerts and reminders for staff, so they can gauge quickly (and with less guesswork) the right level of care, all with the aid of technology that is also compliance oriented.
This evolving technology allows systems to be predictive and proactive. When vitals, progress notes, medication lists and more are all embedded in a single EHR system, staff can concentrate their care where it is most needed and provide appropriate care before there is an emergency, resulting in better outcomes for residents.
An Intuitive Approach to Training for Success
MatrixCare’s approach to getting caregivers to use this technology is to integrate training into the system itself. “Prompts inside the application, tutorials and small snippet videos at each step in the process show users what to do,” says Grunden, who stresses the importance of this training being intuitive. In this way, Grunden explains, “We create a community where our users can support themselves. We have virtual, live interactive training that we provide to all of our customers.” Paired with an online community and message boards, training videos and chat products, the EHR application itself provides a more efficient use of support services.
MatrixCare is a content partner of Seniors Housing Business.