SNF augments its EHR with other tech to aid clinician communication

Jefferson Park at Dandridge (Tenn.) is augmenting its use of an electronic health records system with technology to aid caregiver communication and patient care.

The skilled nursing facility has used the American Health Tech EHR to support post-acute care and senior living facilities in the region. Now it’s adopted two products from American Health Tech, a subsidiary of EHR vendor CPSI, which serves smaller provider organizations.

The AHT Communication Center is intended to improve caregiver communications and patient care transitions by offering secure texting, integrated chatting, faxing and email, with the goal of freeing up clinicians to spend more time with patients, while eliminating the use of paper for documentation.

“The AHT Communication Center is solving the missing communication links we had in our facility,” says Jerry Haynes, director of nursing at Jefferson Park at Dandridge, which served as a beta site for the communication center.

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Jefferson Park also tested and now is live on an electronic referral module from the vendor that enables post-acute facilities to electronically receive information within the EHR and use the Clinical Document Architecture of Health Level 7 to speed the admissions process.

The arrangement means that Jefferson Park, which needed to use more than one vendor for secure email, texting, faxing and chatting now has all these functions bundled in a single software package, Haynes explains.

However, there was one more hurdle to clear, which was reluctance by nurses to the change, Haynes recalls. However, nurses quickly found how the data in the EHR can help them better understand the status of patients. For example, vital signs put in the EHR can be used to rank the acuity of patients and give more attention to a patient whose heart rate is slower than it should be, says Roger MyNatt, administrator at Jefferson Park.

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With the EHR, nurses login to a dashboard and can search for patients who have had their medications and those who have not, or patients who have reported having pain, or a patient who hasn’t had a recent bowel movement.

Now, the organization is analyzing data to better understand its monthly hospital readmission rates and not run afoul of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Jefferson Park is starting to share its data with other local providers, initially working with a small hospital as a beta site with an expected go-live before the end of the year.

“Connecting to all levels of the care continuum is the name of the game,” says MyNatt. “It’s better for patients and reduces costs. My X-rays can be uploaded and shared with the hospital or lab, saving time and money. In the past, post-acute care tended to be behind the curve compared with acute care but now we’re catching up.”

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