Going paperless is a big step for care agency owners.
Many have already taken the plunge and are enjoying the benefits of migrating their record keeping to the cloud.
“Going paperless is a great thing for us,” said one care agency owner we’re working with. “At the moment we are spending so much time in the office printing paper and chasing things up. Being able to hear about concerns is invaluable and thanks to Birdie we’re able to respond in a matter of minutes.” Yet despite the advantages, some agency owners reluctant to make such a big change without fully understanding how it will affect their day-to-day operations and wider business.
Industry thought leaders are all on the same page — paperless record keeping is a game-changer. Indeed, it will soon be an obligation. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is pushing hard for home care agencies to go paperless and even, with a long term vision that care and nursing homes should be paperless by 2021.
Despite the widespread move towards paperless record keeping, there’s a lack of information out there that explains why it’s so important. This is preventing agency owners from taking action. We want to show you why going paperless is the best thing for your agency and it’s actually quite easy to achieve.
The problem with paper
Let’s face it, the care industry is documentation intensive. The sheer volume of customer interactions results in reams of records being generated on a weekly basis. Paper might seem like the most convenient and simple way to manage this, but in reality, it’s adding complexity and cost to your business and making your life harder.
Documenting care with paper is highly inefficient. It means spending hours every week printing out documents and manually ordering filing systems. And it means yet more wasted time spent retrieving information. Over the long term, storage costs pile up, too.
Everyone in the care industry knows paper is a pain. Yes, it’s annoying and time-consuming, but it poses some real risks, too. It’s inefficient, costly and frankly impractical for agencies to retrieve paper visit logs from clients’ houses on a regular basis. So inevitably, information ends up getting entered onto systems on a weekly (or sometimes monthly) basis. The long lag times mean critical information regarding skipped medication, or meals, or other patient data is delayed in reaching care managers who can amend care plans accordingly. Real-time information has the potential to solve these challenges and transform the care industry, and digitisation is key to achieving this. The CQC acknowledges this point, recommending that care agency go digital in order to achieve an ‘Outstanding’ rating.
Ultimately the worst thing about traditional paper-based record keeping isn’t financial cost and administrative burden. It’s that your patients invariably end up with a lower standard of care. Without quick and easy access to task plans and historical care reports, care workers are forced to reinvent the wheel with every new interaction. This has a detrimental impact on the customer experience, affecting the way your agency is perceived in the market and ultimately, hitting your bottom line.
Why you should go paperless
By embracing technology and digital documentation, you can improve the efficiency of your operations, lower costs and help your staff focus on delivering outstanding care.
Going digital is better for agencies and the families they serve. It enables your care workers to focus on what they‘re good at — caring for people — rather than filling out forms and leaving them in the house of the older person so the family can see when they visit and the care manager can collect at the end of the week or month.
Digitising records helps care agencies obtain better ratings from the CQC. 100% of inspections given the ‘Improvements Required’ (IR) rating last month pertained to service that wasn’t ‘well led’ and 80% of cases were due to poor quality assurance (insufficient auditing and missed medication management). In response, the CQC praised the usage of systems for ‘real-time’ quality assurance.
Paperless records ensure a comprehensive audit trail for care delivery, giving care managers and owners the ability to dig into notes, reports and charts to see what’s going on. Care workers can access patient-critical information at the point of care, empowering them to better attend to patients’ needs. Care agency owners can easily retrieve and organise patient information for a CQC inspection.
Having a centralised source of patient information for all your clients makes it easier for you to resource care workers on different jobs and offer person-centered care, giving you flexibility when it comes to managing rotas. This can be invaluable as your business expands.
Your records are backed up in the cloud, meaning they cannot be destroyed by fire, theft or any other calamity. Security is critical (just as it is with physical storage of documents), so ensure you partner with a technology provider that is reputable and robust. Paperless documentation enables you to fulfil your duty of care as a data handler and comply with relevant privacy laws and regulations. In recent years, privacy and data custody have become big issues, and this is only going to accelerate going forward. It makes sense to migrate to a paperless system now so that you and your agency can enjoy the benefits of a cloud-based system that’s secure and GDPR compliant.
Taking the next step
People tend to fear change and there may be reluctance to embrace digital record keeping. This will dissipate once they experience the benefits to them and their patients. So before going paperless, it’s worth having a think about how you can effectively “sell” the strategy to your team and get their buy-in. Then, invest in training your staff on how to effectively implement digital record keeping. It helps to guide them through the process and explain the benefits for them in terms they can understand.
Going paperless with your record keeping is a big step, but an important one. Here at Birdie, we strongly believe it can transform care agencies, and we’re committed to helping agency owners navigate the process of going digital in a sensitive and comprehensive way.
If you’re interested in digital care planning then get in touch — we provide free demo and training and you’ll be up and running in no time.
Now we’ve demonstrated why you should go paperless, stay tuned for next blog post on exactly how you can do it. Digitising your documentation doesn’t have to be painful and disruptive. By choosing the right partner, you can transition to digital painlessly and quickly, transforming your business and your brand in the process.