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Toolkits 8th December 2022

5 ways digital data can be used to save time and work smarter

By Sarah Jenkins

Digital care planning is the way forward for health and social care and the 2024 digital deadline is fast approaching. By March 2024, the Department for Health & Social Care require 80% of care providers to be using digital care planning, with plans for this to eventually become 100%. Saving time is one of the key benefits of using digital care planning but how can digital data be used to save time and work smarter within your care service?

1. Recording notes on the go

Using a digital care management platform that allows care note recording on the go is an instant time saver, especially compared to paper notes. Not only is time saved on note recording, but notes are more detailed and precise allowing senior staff and managers to spot any changes that require their attention and intervention.

2. Enabling carers to have the most up-to-date information

With notes recorded on the go, information is up-to-date and available within the handheld devices. Care staff will have instant access to the essential information they need about the people you support. As and when care needs change, your care teams will always be in the loop to ensure they can provide the best care suitable for the people you support. The handover feature of a digital care planning platform will allow your care teams to see essential information from the shifts before, ensuring they are up-to-date on any events and are aware of anything that needs to be monitored or checked.

Agency carers, if used in your care service, are there to assist your staff when there are shortages. However, unless you’re lucky enough to get the same carers over and over, ensuring agency staff have all the necessary information
to provide safe, effective and person-centred care to the people you support can be time consuming. Having care plans and essential information available on a portable device means agency staff are able to immediately familiarise themselves with the people they will be supporting without having to rely on your care staff.

78% of care providers surveyed in a study by Care England reported that there has been a significantly higher and more frequent need for nurse and carer agency staff in May/June 2022 compared to April 2021. The survey also found that 50% of agency staff during this time were used to fill long-term vacancies of four weeks or more. With agency usage increasing, a digital platform that accommodates this is essential.

“The impact on the team was an immediate effect, especially in regards to time saving and daily report completion.” St Bernard’s Residential

3. Providing an overview across all services

Using a digital care management platform as a care group allows you to have an overview of each and every service within your group from a centralised location without physically having to visit. This means no more travelling to each location, freeing up your all-important time. A digital care management platform should feature dashboards and reports for the management teams to track and monitor trends and changes in the people supported. With the power of data intelligence readily available, you have the capability for early intervention on health and wellbeing changes and the ability to see if any services are in need of extra support.

“It’s so easy to access care plans, risk assessments, contacts, daily routines, fluid charts, falls, medication and more all in one place and at the touch of a button.” St James Care – Linden House

4. Utilising integrations to have all information in one place

Utilising the third-party integrations available within your chosen platform will save your team’s time as all information can be found in one central location and encourages working smarter in proactive and preventative care. Integrations can be used to reduce administrative burden, reduce double entry and improve the flow of information in the circle of care. Integrations give you access to information you wouldn’t otherwise have access to. This allows you to analyse digital data and make better more informed decisions, the best possible outcomes, improve care delivery and care review for the future.

Integrations with third-party eMAR systems ensure you have immediate access to the information you need at the point of care, such as medications administered and associated notes. Prescribed medications can instantly be added to the Emergency Admission Pack if one of the people you support has to go into hospital. For integrations that focus on falls prevention, the data recorded can be analysed in order to identify early warning signs. These early warning signs will allow you to put preventative measures in place, reducing future incidents, the time spent on incident aftercare and allowing for a safer environment for the people you support.

Escalations of care need a timely response from external healthcare providers and preventative care and chronic disease management integrations encourage this. The ability to share information from your digital care planning platforms with a clinical team quickly is crucial to the person you support and the management of their care, saving time trying to get through on the telephone. Preventative care works to reduce hospital admissions with early intervention. Having systems in place enables early supported discharge which frees up beds within the NHS and supports a community-based approach to care in a more comfortable and appropriate setting for the people you support.

Nurse call software and the analysis of data surrounding call bell usage is designed to reduce the usage of call bells in care services. In doing this, the care service environment becomes less stressful for the people you support and your staff. The data analysis can show where call bell usage is higher and response times slower, allowing for adjustments to staffing levels to accommodate, easing the minds of family members and providing evidence for CQC.

“Nourish allows us insight into our care system that never existed before. This has really helped how we collaborate as a team and share information between departments and other healthcare professionals.” – The Grange Centre

5. Identifying actionable insights and trends 

Using a digital care planning platform will allow you to analyse the data that is recorded. Centralising data storage through the use of integrations allows a concoction of rich data to identify trends and patterns that will allow you to improve the lives of people you support. Using paper particularly would make joining the dots on incidents and the potential causes trickier and slower. With a digital platform, the information can begin to be analysed instantly.

By analysing the data recorded, you and your teams will be able to spot and track trends on simple and easy to use dashboards. The data can be useful to allow you to intervene before an incident occurs by spotting trends before they escalate. Dashboards and reporting  functionalities allow you to track the events leading up to an incident and in the future, if the same chain of events begin to happen, intervene before the risk reaches boiling point. Not only does this save time on form filling, contacting families, external healthcare providers and more but it is also significant for the individual supported. The data analysis also provides the opportunity of learnings that can be shared across your services, helping to contribute to positive change within your organisation.

Using digital care planning allows you to become proactive in your care approach. You can see warning signs, manage and raise awareness of any triggers, inform staff of the best way to respond by having all that information in carers hands on their devices. In the short term, time is saved on note recording, double entries and information sharing and in the long term, time is saved by utilising preventative measures and being proactive in your care approach. Not only is time saved by working smarter but implementing the aforementioned measures will improve the wellbeing of the people you support and your staff.

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