Choosing a care management platform can be a minefield, especially if you haven’t used one before or are completely new to digital care records. There’s a lot to consider and several suppliers to choose from. So, this week I look at some of the things that will help you choose the right care management platform for you.
Ask yourself why
The first question you need to ask yourself is why you want to introduce a care management platform into your service. If you’re rushing because the government has announced that they want all providers to digitise their records, that is not a good enough answer. You need to make sure that switching to a digital system also benefits your team and provides better outcomes for the people you support.
Make a list of reasons why you want to implement a care management platform, then you can start to put together a simple document of the things you need from that system. Do you want something that just records care notes or do you want it to be able to record medication? Do you want to be able to have better data sets or easier access to reporting? Are you trying to make care delivery smoother by saving time on note-taking and handovers? Once you have established what you want from a system, pull together a list of questions to ask when you meet with care management platform suppliers.
All in one or separate systems?
There are pros and cons to having a system that does everything. From experience, I would stick to having one system that does care planning and electronic medication records and keep your other systems separate. This gives you more control over getting a better deal and you won’t have to stick with suppliers if they do not meet your needs. Make sure you shop around and do your research.
Research and Compare
It’s so important to do your research! Here are some things I would definitely recommend:
- Talk to other care providers and find out the pros and cons of the systems they use. Remember, everyone will have cons for each system, so look beyond the wording and dig deeper to find out what caused the negative review.
- Meet with all the care management platform suppliers on your shortlist so you can ask your questions and gather information.
- Make sure you can have a demo account so you and your staff can play around and get a feel for a system. A red flag should go up straight away if they do not allow this.
- Ensure you get clear costing - know the length of the contracts, the renewal processes, the cancellations policy etc.
- Check the system has strong measures to protect the data of the people you support and your staff.
Once you have completed your research, compare care management platforms to see how they stack up against each other. Things to compare should include features, costs and user satisfaction.
Where to start?
With so many suppliers to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. To make life easier, I recommend sticking to the suppliers on the NHS assured supplier list. You can find this here.
If you like a care management platform that’s not on the list, feel free to reach out to them and ask if they have any plans to be added to the list (if they don’t, it probably gives you an indication of their assurances).
One of the additional benefits of choosing from the NHS assured supplier list is there may be funding available. You can find out more here.
Things to consider when choosing your platform
- User-friendliness – think about how easy it is for staff to use, especially if you have staff who lack confidence using technology and/or whose first language is not English
- Accessibility – is the system accessible for those with additional needs such as large print. Think about the people you are supporting and whether this is something they can use.
- Customisation – can you customise forms/documents and tailor the system to meet the needs of the service
- Integration – does it integrate with other systems? Even if you don’t need this now, you may in the future.
- Data security measures – look out for cyber essential certification.
- Reporting capabilities – how easy is it to evidence the support you provide?
- Support – what customer services support and the training for staff is on offer
- Cost – do the subscription models on offer meet your needs?
- Device – do you have to use their handsets and IT or can you purchase your own?
- Groups – if you have more than one service, can the system toggle and set user permissions?
- Roadmap – does the supplier take on board feedback and suggestions for future updates?
Remember, take your time. There is no rush to implement anything, so make sure you utilise Registered Manager forums, speak to other providers and find the system that is right for you.