Electronic care systems are an established way of recording and storing care records and deliver numerous benefits to care providers. For providers considering transitioning to an electronic care system, it is important to know how mobile, efficient, transparent and visible, suitable, and reliable the system is before committing. Following these 5 key criteria ensures that the care provider receives maximum benefit from an electronic care system.
The first thing to consider is mobility. As carers and nurses don’t sit at desks, they didn’t benefit from the revolution of desktop computers and email that other workplaces experienced. Mobile tablets and smartphones are now used personally by almost everyone of working age and staff adapt quickly to using a handheld device to record information. With electronic care, delivering care isn’t hampered by having to return to a central place – whether paper or desktop computer – to evidence care. An electronic care system should be mobile, to go with the worker to wherever they need to be.
The efficiency that electronic care brings to a care provider should enable more time to be spent providing care to service users. Evidencing care electronically can save each carer about an hour a day on paperwork. The information that is recorded can be seen by the people who need it, instantly, and in real-time. Senior members of staff have information in formats appropriate for auditing at their role level and can access this information from wherever they are working.
Electronic care helps to provide transparency and visibility of information which enables safeguarding and other risks to be managed properly. One significant advantage of electronic care is that information isn’t hidden away in filing cabinets to remain secure. Accessing information is straightforward for everyone involved in running the care home, from carers to senior people in the company, wherever they are based, without compromising security.
For an electronic care system to be suitable it should provide senior members of staff with all the information they need, but also be easy to use for carers and nurses. Systems that enable carers and nurses to easily write person-centred daily notes that also inform a full set of charts and reports, and link to care plans automatically is most beneficial to the care provider as it saves time and ensures all information is always up to date.
Care providers will only experience the full benefits of electronic care if the system is 100% reliable. There are many things that affect reliability, but most can be managed if the system is well designed. The single biggest impact on reliability is network or WiFi interruptions. The ability to work offline, without constant access to the network or internet, is a key requirement for a reliable and effective care system. Electronic care, designed to work only when WiFi is available, will cause frustration and interrupt carers’ natural working patterns.
Finally, it is not uncommon for new software products to be chosen by senior people in the company, expecting others to adapt to the software without ensuring that the people using the systems have benefits themselves. This approach commonly leads to projects that are abandoned as the effort involved in change management becomes too high. In order to ensure that any systems change will be successful it is necessary to confirm that every person involved in the change will see a benefit significantly greater than the effort involved in adapting to a new system. Ease of use and simplicity are paramount for busy care workers.