CORDERS COLUMN: Computers improve care

It seems a contradiction, but the evidence is undeniable: computers help deliver amazing care.

Computers come in many forms these days. Massive server farms power cloud-based applications and services that are delivered at the point of care on smartphones, laptops, touchscreens and tablets.

Health+Care, an exhibition that ran for two days in London this week, was bristling with the latest innovations. I saw digital solutions for administration of medicine, e-learning, care planning, accounting, payroll, scheduling and complete care home management.

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The investment in this technology from the likes of EveryLIFE, Person Centred Software, My Learning Cloud, Datix, Sekoia, CACI, Essence, Advanced, Tynetec, Access, Mobizio and many others too many to mention, has the potential to transform care.

The companies and their products may perform different tasks, but they all aim for the same outcome, which is to drive down the time and money it takes to create, maintain, manage and report from paper-based systems.

For example, writing records into care plans, copying them again into a central system, and then filing them in such a way that it can be found again when needed, often takes nursing and care staff around a quarter of their time.

The best care homes today – and their CQC ratings often reflect this – use digital care planning where any interaction with a resident can be tapped into a handheld device in seconds. This speaks instantly to a central system where it can be stored, monitored, retrieved and analysed. What’s more, that interaction can automatically trigger other actions, such as ordering consumables that might be running low, or booking transport for a GP visit.

Care homes that embrace this type of technology are reporting up to two hours per day being saved for each member of its front line team. Those two hours can be put straight back into care.

The industry is right on a tipping point where the importance of driving paperwork out of the organisation cannot be put off. Digital systems need to be the bedrock of every service, because they are proving over and over again that they improve outcomes for residents.

It was a shame to see that the number of people selling these vital technology solutions probably outnumbered the number of care home operators at Health+Care evaluating them.

Switching from paper-based systems that have served a care home for decades may seem daunting, but the productivity improvements that going digital delivers can no longer be ignored.

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