Improving patient care is one of the five national priorities for the NHS, and has been for quite some time. Initially set out in 2009/10, the 5 priorities were designed to drive up the quality of health care at every level. One well-accepted means of improving patient care is by freeing up the flow of vital information between the different points of care. This enables clinicians – whether in GP surgeries, hospitals, care homes or independent treatment centres – to use the most complete and up-to-date patient records to inform their care decisions. But how can this be achieved?
What Is Centralised Document Control?
Cloud-based document management systems serve as a central repository for all of a care home’s documentation. So instead of being stored on several separate systems, all information for a single care home, or even a chain of care homes, can be sorted in one place and accessed remotely. This means that data, such as resident information, medication order, transfer scripts and more, can all be accessed, viewed changed and shared among all employees within the care home. Documents stored in this central repository can be tagged and sorted in any way the user chooses, and these tags can be used as ‘search’ terms to help staff find the documents they need quickly. It can also be used as a way to store boilerplate document templates, so that everyone is working from the same files in the same format, reducing the risk of errors. This style of system means no more wasting hours of time searching through stacks of folders or dozens of files to find a single document.
How Can This Improve Patient Care?
Centralised document control has many administrative perks for healthcare organisations, but the advantages are particularly prominent within care homes. This is because residents within care homes require a more attentive style of care, so increasing the amount of time staff can spend with their residents is an instant improvement in care. Beyond that, centralised document management also means that care home staff have instant access to full medical records for all of their residents – making tasks like administering medication on time, checking on welfare and watching out for flagged warning signs a much simpler task. At the moment, some care home managers have reported spending over 20% of their time on paperwork instead of on essential leadership activities to help ensure high-quality care for residents. This number increases for actual caregivers, who spend upwards of 40% of their time on paperwork instead of promoting positive well-being and healthcare.
Centralising care home documentation also means that various paperwork-based problems can be solved, reducing the number of negative incidents. Some examples of common care home problems caused by cumbersome paperwork storage include:
- Substandard care
- Failure to create/adhere to care plans
- Disregarding of resident preferences
- Failure to provide necessary services
- Incorrect medical care/medication administered
- Care delays
A lot of these issues are caused by the loss of paperwork, complex storage of paperwork, duplication errors and unnecessary volumes of paperwork tasks assigned to staff. But by consolidating paperwork into a single central repository with inbuilt lifecycle management, implementing basic document templates and enabling power searching to find things easily, care homes could see benefits beyond the obvious administrative advantages.
As you can see, the evidence of the benefits of improved information sharing and integration within care homes is abundant. With proper document and healthcare records management, care homes across the country can see a dramatic improvement in the quality of patient care and administrative process. The process of implementing centralised document management is simple, and the benefits can be seen almost instantly. For more information, or to book your free demo, get in touch with the Tipac team today.