How to Choose an Electronic Care Planning System

Care Plans are central to ensuring residents receive the appropriate care for their needs and they are the source of evidencing that the care has been provided. The traditional care plans are paper based which can make their execution inconsistent and the act of recording the care provided laborious.

Just like the domain of medicines management using the right technology can help you shape the way you deliver care and improve the quality of care whilst achieving consistency and producing efficiencies. Technology can help you demonstrate your standard of care to regulatory bodies more effectively. CQC’s updated KLOEs, and, in particular, question E1.3, specifically asks how you use technology and equipment to enhance care.

So how can you choose an electronic care planning system? Below are six questions that will inform your choice.

Question 1: What is your primary goal for adopting an electronic care planning system?

Is it simply to go paperless, or are you looking for increased accountability, improved reporting and management and efficiency?

Consider the following questions when reviewing electronic care plans:

  • Is it quick and easy to use so carers can capture all the moments they care for residents, without taking time away from being with residents to document it?
  • Can 100% of the care staff use the system so residents’ care records will always be complete and detailed?
  • Will the system automatically populate evidence of care into relevant reports, charts and alerts so you have complete visibility of care at your fingertips?
  • Will you easily be able to spot and rectify any gaps in records at the point of care and prove compliance? This will give you confidence for inspections.
  • Are you able to track who has access to information and ensure none of it is lost, copied or shared inappropriately? This will help your care home have greater protection and comply with data protection regulations.

Question 2: Does the system integrate or share data with other technologies involved in the care of the resident?

Care homes will want to choose the best technology for every aspect of the care they provide, and they want to be able to view the data on their central care plans. For the electronic care plan to be complete, there needs to be data sharing or integration with all the different technologies. Does the electronic care plan for example offer integration or data sharing with an electronic medicines management system?

Question 3: Have you done your due diligence on all the systems?

Have you visited trade shows such as the Health + Care Show or any technology days organised by Care England, The National Care Forum or your local care association to ensure that you are fully aware of all the systems on the market? Do all the systems on the market evidence care effectively and provide the benefits that you require? Have you spoken to other care homes that use the particular electronic care planning system that you are reviewing? Are there any additional benefits to using electronic care planning that you have not considered? What do forums and social media think about the system?

Question 4: Have you had demonstrations of your shortlisted systems?

From your due diligence you should have a shortlist of systems to have a demonstration of. Ask to visit a care home that is already using the system that you are interested in before inviting the provider for a demonstration. There are also some care homes that are embracing innovative care through technology – for instance, WCS Care have an ‘Innovation Hub’ that exhibits the innovations they use and welcomes anyone in social care to attend.

Prepare questions to ask each system provider to ensure you’re choosing the system you need. No question is a bad question. You will need to weigh up whether the system will give you the benefits you need, rather than if what they offer is the only option available for electronic systems.

Question 5: How will the system be implemented?

What is the process for on boarding, training and supporting your staff to embed the system in to your organisation?

How quick and easy it will be to get up and running – and verify that with other care homes using the system.

Question 6: How will you manage the change?

Change in processes is difficult at the best of times and there will be people who are not comfortable with both the change and with the use of technology. This change will need leadership to overcome resistance and teething issues. Who is the best person to lead this change and who will support them? Care homes often have project managers to manage the process of the change and champions within the care home who will encourage and lead other staff by example.

A case study of a successful use of electronic care planning system and integration with electronic medication system

Ernie Graham, owner of Cornford House near Tunbridge Wells, benefits from working with Invatech Health’s eMAR system and Person Centred Software’s electronic care planning software, giving his care homes greater flexibility.

Ernie says, “Over the years we have learnt that the best technology is provided by companies who are specialists in a specific aspect of care. For medicine management, we chose ATLAS eMAR, a specialist product from a company run by experts who are pharmacists and doctors. The ATLAS eMAR was the only system that had barcode scanning for safety, has full stock control and tackles the issues of communication around changes to therapy and prescriptions with the pharmacy and GP surgeries.”

Ernie says, “We moved to Person Centred Software due its modern mobile handheld system and technical and open architecture. The company has considerable expertise which they have transferred through several years of developing the software. The company’s Mobile Care Monitoring application uses mobile devices to prompt care and record events. It is very visual, easy to use and it saves a lot of time.”

Ernie concludes, “We see a strong case for integration and inter-operability. We have been marketed with ‘one stop solutions’ but don’t want to be limited as to the technology. We want to work with in-depth specialists, with the analytics undertaken by each provider. And we want to work with the ‘best in class’ in each specialism of care and then apply the analytics from each to combine outcomes and mitigate risk, with all the data available in one place.”

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Invatech Health Ltd is a company registered in England and Wales. Registered number: 08972421. Registered office: 442-450 Stapleton Road, Bristol, BS5 6NR. VAT Number: 184392679.