It can be an extremely difficult decision for families to place their loved one in the care of professionals in a nursing home. This is an inevitable move for many older Americans or those with chronic illnesses, but one that is often viewed with some trepidation by families. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways that information technology can be used in nursing homes to create a more protective and proactive environment. Digital healthcare records are one of the more familiar ways that service providers are able to leverage a range of data sources to improve the quality of care, but there are many other ways that healthcare professionals are utilizing advanced technology to create a more connected experience for patients and loved ones alike.
For the past decade, healthcare organizations have been scrambling to upgrade their systems and train their staff to fully utilize electronic health records (EHR). Recording a patient’s information digitally instead of relying on paper forms enhances the quality of care by ensuring all service providers have access to the latest information in real time. Healthcare professionals are able to leverage this information to coordinate care with others, enable safer and more reliable prescriptions, streamline coding and medical billing and decrease the overall administrative costs associated with providing care. Protecting these records and remaining compliant with government requirements is an ongoing challenge for organizations, as continual changes make “compliance” a moving target. With the move towards secure, accessible electronic health records, nursing homes are proving their dedication to providing affordable, high-quality healthcare for their patients.
A key benefit of utilizing EHRs is the ability of healthcare providers to immediately access up-to-the-minute information about a patient’s background and special needs. This is a crucial technology for a nursing home setting, as patients may be transferred between the nursing home and hospital several times over the duration of their stay. When health information is tracked via digital methods, it’s easier to employ advanced analytics that can help healthcare providers proactively provide care by looking for defined triggers that could signal problems on the horizon. Plus, the biofeedback that can be provided to patients may help encourage healthier lifestyles through the broader introduction of preventative care.
A recent study shows a strong correlation between the level of information technology in nursing homes and positive patient outcomes. This includes everything from a reduced instance of urinary tract infections, fewer pressure ulcers and even lower levels of pain as reported by patients. With the reduced administrative load on staff professionals, the caregivers are able to focus more of their attention on their patients. Nursing homes have been slower to embrace the value of technology than other healthcare providers, simply because nursing homes may not have access to the same levels of state and government funding that is available for other health providers. The investment in information technology may be difficult to justify for nursing homes, but it is a crucial step towards improving the quality and efficiency of healthcare.
Electronic health records are far from the only benefit to be gained by nursing home patients and staff members. There have been recent questions into the quality of healthcare provided at nursing homes, and consolidated reporting can be a core offering that allows administrators to identify areas for improvement as well as proving ROI for the adoption of healthcare information technology (HIT). HIT is a term used to cover a variety of different information technology functions in nursing homes and other healthcare facilities, including:
With government agencies estimating that only between 5-58% of healthcare facilities have fully adopted PHR and EHR, there are plenty of opportunities to continue adapting information technology to improve the quality of care in nursing homes.
There are thousands of pieces of health information and personal data that are required to provide high-quality healthcare for a single patient. Everything from their age, height and weight to medications and any types of allergies are all recorded digitally for organizations that have adopted EHR. Individual healthcare providers utilize this information to make the next-best recommendation for care, but in aggregate — this data can be even more powerful. Predictive analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) can be leveraged to reduce medical errors and even produce potential diagnoses for patients with secondary symptoms that might otherwise be missed. The legibility of documentation is also a big win, which helps ensure that prescriptions are accurately interpreted and administered to patients.
Introducing a greater level of information technology to nursing homes allows these healthcare professionals to fulfill their mission of providing the most efficient and effective care possible for their patients. From reducing the administrative overhead to allow practitioners to spend more time with their patients to consolidated data points that help protect patients by ensuring a more consistent level of care, nursing homes are finding that there is a positive value to increase their investment in information technology. Want to investigate how your nursing home or home healthcare provider can leverage the power of information systems to improve patient care? Contact the professionals at HitsTech today at 828-695-9440 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
HitsTech is focused on bringing the right information technology solutions to organizations throughout North Carolina.
We welcome you the read some of our latest blog posts and technology articles.