The assessment is one of the most important and powerful tools used in an assisted living community. In providing the roadmap for resident care, it also helps define staffing needs and so has an impact on a community’s overall cash flow.
The problem we hear most often from nursing directors, though, is that the many assessments are required to be performed and can be hard to track. They provide a wealth of information – and really, an evolving portrait of wellness – but when they exist as paper documents, there’s a risk that the assessments serve more as items on a to-do list than the drivers of care and business decisions that they can and should be.
Digitizing these assessments is the obvious solution. But if you’re a nursing director considering your options (e.g., by comparing EHRs), it’s important to make sure the solution you choose actually has the assessment support your community needs.
For the record, Caremerge does have digital assessment capabilities and was built specifically for assisted living and memory care communities. But whether you’re here because you’re shopping around or looking for evidence to convince other stakeholders in your community to go digital, here are some important ways digitization can improve assessments in senior living settings.
Assessment Creation and Customization
An EHR that’s well suited to an assisted living or memory care community should come with certain assessments built in – a ready-made assessment library. If you’ve ever had to oversee the creation or update of an assessment, this is probably music to your ears.
The customer support team at the EHR provider should also be able to work with you to customize these assessments for your community. Any assessment that requires scoring, for example, requires nuanced backend IT work.
If you have to wait for your IT team (or IT person) to build something like that because the team behind the EHR you chose doesn’t offer that support, you will likely be waiting a long time.
Compliant Record Storage
Chances are, your state requires you to hang on to residents’ medical records for several years. When you digitize, that requirement becomes much more manageable. In fact, we’ve seen some cases where the burden of document storage alone is enough to push community leaders to consider converting to EHR.
In addition to letting you keep every assessment neatly and invisibly filed away for legal reasons, digitized assessments mean you’re prepared in the case of a lawsuit against your community.
It’s not pleasant to think about, but the reality is that lawsuits against assisted living facilities are on the rise. According to a piece in McKnight’s, the main causes for these lawsuits include…
- Failure to move residents to a more acute care setting.
- Deficiencies in ongoing resident assessments.
- Deficiencies in administrative record keeping.
In other words, all things that could be prevented with digitized assessments that easily help you determine the correct level of care.
When months of patient records can be pulled up and examined with a few swipes of the screen, it’s much easier to notice a trend in increasing care needs. It’s much harder to miss key warning signs that a resident might need a follow-up assessment or an increased level of care. More details on both of these below.
Making sure state-required assessments get completed and filed on time is difficult. It becomes more difficult as your community grows, you acquire more staff, or you expand to multiple locations. And making sure that forms are not only submitted by deadlines but also filled out completely and consistently – well, it’s a lot.
This is where digitized assessments really show their worth: being able to access forms from anywhere is a major time saver. Getting reminders when residents require follow-up assessments based on incidents or state requirements is a huge stress reliever. And being able to set up alerts ahead of deadlines so you can avoid fines and penalties is priceless.
Digitizing Assessments to Improve Care Levels in Your Community
An improvement in assessment completion and tracking is just one of the benefits of switching to EHR. If your community is struggling with staying on top of these assessments, staying compliant, or storing these or other types of medical records, now is a good time to start considering your electronic options.
If you’d like to see improved assessments (and other EHR functionalities) in action, sign up for a demo. We’d be happy to help you determine whether our software can help improve life at your community.