Mark Topps discusses the benefits of moving to a digital care management system and shares his advice and tips for going from paper to digital.
Social care has significantly changed in the last five years. There are several factors accelerating the introduction of digital products, including the pandemic, government targets and, like the CQC incorporating more tech themselves, regulators pushing for providers to have this in place.
I remember the days of sitting at the end of each shift with reams of paperwork to complete, compared to today's shifts where records are completed within a fraction of the time, and save teams hours of notetaking.
In this article, I delve into the positives of embracing digital records and some tips if you are considering using care software.
Accessibility to records has been one of the biggest strengths of digital records, allowing management teams to access information and data anywhere.
The days of operational or regional managers having to visit sites to ascertain information, or services having to scan or email large amounts of data have gone. Instead, managers can log in and check the performance of the service.
It is not just the remote access that digital systems bring when we talk about accessibility, but also the integration to other remote services, such as telecare or telehealth products.
Whilst digital records can be expensive to implement within your service, the long-term savings far outweigh this. Cost savings come from reduced:
Digital care management systems allow for instant information, in real time, ensuring that the latest information is available to all relevant parties when needed.
In my organisation, I have a number of different stakeholders who like the data presented in different formats and at differing frequencies. Digital systems allow me to run reports at multiple times during the day or week, knowing the information sent is accurate and up to date.
With observations, assessments and interventions being easily updated, this ensures that records reflect the most recent account of the people we care for. With information being real time, it allows for decision-making to be made based on the most recent data and information, which can be communicated effectively with other members of the team.
For example, if there is a medication change, all relevant parties can be instantly informed, reducing the risk of miscommunication and medication errors.
Gone are the days of documentation and records being left lying around, having to remember to lock it away, and making sure only those who need to see it actually see it.
Digital systems allow for personalised access levels, ensuring that different people have access only to the information relevant to their roles. This personalisation protects people’s privacy, ensures confidentiality and reduces the risk of data being accessed unintendedly.
Digital records can also be encrypted, adding an extra layer of security. This means that even if unauthorised access occurs, the data remains unreadable without the appropriate decryption keys.
Although this is not the only benefit, auditing trails can provide a detailed history of when someone accessed a record, what changes they made, and when they made them. This accountability enhances transparency and helps to identify any breaches.
Regular updates to digital systems can also address emerging security threats, ensuring that the system remains resilient against evolving risks.
Unlike paper records which can be lost, damaged or even fly away in the wind (remember those days!), digital records can be backed up on a regular basis, ensuring that even in the case of a fire, flood, or system failure, data can be quickly recovered.
We know the government have their target to get 80% of Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered providers to have digital social care records by March 2024, and are offering funding to go digital.
Whilst not mandating them, inspecting bodies have made it clear that their expectations are for providers to go digital. By being digital, you are meeting their expectations and making your service more complaint.
Many digital systems are designed to automatically comply with regulations, reducing the burden on care providers to manually ensure compliance.
Moving from paper to digital is a big step for any service. Here are my top ten pieces of advice with questions to ask yourself:
Digital journeys can be both daunting and exciting. It is important that, whilst on the journey, you acknowledge and celebrate milestones and successes as the positive reinforcement can help boost morale and maintain enthusiasm for the new digital system.
For more insights into the benefits of a digital care management system, Log my Care recently released a new case study about a nursing home transforming their service efficiency by transitioning from paper to digital. It took them two weeks to go digital, with their staff gaining less stress and more hours in a day to spend with their residents.
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Have a flick through some of our other articles.
Mark Topps explores how care providers can best set service user goals, and discusses the pros and cons of paper vs digital care records.
Log my Care is a Person Centred Software (PCS) alternative that helps improve care delivery across your service.