IDD EHR Use: Ways to Help Your Staff Improve Quality of Services
by Core Solutions on May 23, 2023
As service providers who work with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs) consider moving away from paper-based systems, there can be a lot of benefits to assess. An organization will typically gain operational efficiencies through automation.
Yet that’s only one piece of the decision. The impact on overall service quality is just as important when building a business case for transitioning to an IDD EHR (electronic health record).
How well your organization can coordinate care, maintain a supportive and safe environment, and help individuals achieve the best outcomes are key measures of success influenced by technology selection. When comparing IDD EHR options, it will be important to consider quality-driving capabilities in the five areas below.
5 Ways IDD EHR Use Improves Quality of Services
IDD EHR use can improve the quality of service your organization provides in several important ways:
1. Care Coordination
Many individuals may be involved in providing services to someone with IDD needs, from care managers and direct support professionals to those providing behavioral and occupational therapy for intellectual disability. This diverse team needs to be able to share information to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding an individual’s needs.
An IDD EHR compatible with industry standards for data sharing can facilitate better care coordination among service and healthcare providers, allowing them to share information securely and in real-time. This big-picture view can help reduce errors, improve communication, and ensure that individuals receive the appropriate assistance at the right time. With a complete view of a client's medical and service history, IDD service providers can better identify risks to health, manage chronic conditions more effectively, and avoid duplication of tests and services. This visibility can lead to better outcomes and improved quality of life.
2. Accurate and Timely Documentation
An IDD EHR also can significantly improve the accuracy, completeness, and timeliness of a service provider’s documentation. The right IDD EHR will have reporting that assists in quickly recording behaviors, interventions, and outcomes and includes easy access to assessments within workflows. Life plans and service plans can be long and are often complex. Automated assistance for more complete and structured documentation can make it easier to capture notes and compare performance against targets.
Over time, improved documentation will provide the most complete picture of an individual’s progress, needs, and overall health. Having this information captured will help service providers identify the best interventions and respond to needs faster. It also can improve the coordination of care with the larger service and care teams, since they will have a more accurate and complete context with which to understand progress and outcomes to date.
3. Improved Medication Management
Many individuals with IDDs are at increased risk for medication-related harm and inappropriate prescribing due to a greater likelihood of multiple comorbidities. In addition, polypharmacy, the use of multiple drugs to treat health conditions, is extremely common among individuals with IDD needs, with estimates ranging from 11% to 60%, depending on the definition and study population characteristics. Because of this, effective medication management is essential to any quality and safety program for IDD service providers. The right EHR can be crucial in alerting service providers to potential drug interactions, dosing, and allergies.
The right IDD EHR also can assist in monitoring medication adherence, which is essential for individuals with complex medication regimens. With Core’s Cx360, direct support providers can make use of automated task triggering and accountability tracking around medication dispensing, refilling prescriptions, and scheduling follow-up appointments with prescribing clinicians. Enhanced documentation capabilities also can aid in monitoring potential medication side effects.
4. Unified Person-Centered Planning for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
Also crucial to quality is ensuring a unified and cohesive person-centered plan, which can be challenging given the many individuals that can be involved in care, from direct service providers to primary care physicians to those providing occupational, behavioral health or other therapy for intellectual disability care of the individual.
As defined by the Administration for Community Living, a person-centered plan is a process for selecting and organizing the services and supports a person with a disability may need to live in their community. The person receiving services directs the process, and they may include family members, caregivers, and other trusted individuals.
An EHR can help support person-centered care. For example, with Cx360, staff can conduct a comprehensive assessment to identify an individual’s needs. Each need then translates to a valued outcome on a person-centered life plan or service plan. Managers can then assign tasks to various care team members to achieve these outcomes. Such automation makes the planning process more efficient. And it also helps minimize the likelihood of missed services with built-in systems of accountability. The result is more complete and seamless person-centered planning for individuals with developmental disabilities.
5. Minimizing Gaps in Offsite Services
Individuals with IDD needs often receive services outside a provider’s location, whether in a home, school, or community setting. Since service providers may not always be working on-site, they need to be able to remotely access records to support care continuity. An IDD EHR platform should minimize any information gaps that can occur when providing home- and community-based services. For example, Cx360 is cloud-based and mobile-accessible to minimize communication barriers. If staff are away from WIFI, the software will immediately sync once they are in range again. This capability is especially beneficial in areas with a shortage of IDD service providers serving a large geographic footprint, as is common in rural areas.
Similarly, telehealth is increasingly used to improve access to IDD services. An IDD EHR with built-in telehealth capabilities can help service providers work with a much larger pool of staff and expand the reach of service. At a time when access to service is strained in so many areas, the ability to host online appointments can be critical for connecting service providers and recipients when face-to-face interaction is either not feasible or preferred.
IDD EHR Effects on Quality of Services
As IDD service providers move away from paper-based systems, the future holds great promise for improved information access and sharing. To best position their organizations for long-term success, leaders should consider technology to meet changing documentation, communication, and workflow management demands. Organizations with a proactive strategy for IDD EHR adoption can dramatically affect capabilities for delivering more effective, safe, and seamless services within their facility and beyond.
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