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Originally Published in McKnight's Long Term Care News, August 28, 2013
 

By Bruce Baron (CEO)

Many senior care providers are implementing Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems in their efforts to improve care and reduce costs. This is increasingly a necessity, as EMRs can help prevent harmful drug interactions, track assessments and monitor clinical outcomes. They are considered a critical tool for providers who want to be part of an accountable care organization.

But what happens when the EMR system is down and not available? How do eldercare providers ensure patient care is not compromised?

Consistent patient care when your EMR system crashes is critical. Communications with staff during these challenges needs to be timely, clear and actionable. There are many ways to attempt to accomplish this communications task, but these have varying degrees of success and cost.

Many communities choose to revert to old methods and set up a “call tree” to disseminate information to the nursing staff. But administrators should question whether a call tree is truly effective and the best use of management's valuable time.

At Wingate Healthcare, an innovative skilled nursing and senior living provider in New York and Massachusetts, Lisa Jacobs, vice president of clinical services, is replacing the anachronistic call tree in their EMR Recovery Plan with the automated messaging solution from VoiceFriend. Lisa says that they were pleased with how they could make staff more productive with VoiceFriend, and brainstormed up an idea to replace the call tree with the service. It will greatly enhance communications during a true EMR systems issue, she noted.

EMR downtime is a tremendous challenge. Communicating consistent instructions to staff during the recovery should be the easiest part of the recovery process.

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