Senior care providers face many challenges in today’s healthcare landscape, particularly when it comes to compliance with regulatory requirements. The average care facility can spend millions of dollars every year on compliance-focused administrative activities.
Adhering to compliance standards is not only essential for legal and ethical reasons but also for delivering the highest quality of care for their residents. Fortunately, advancements in technology have paved the way for innovative tools that can assist senior care providers in navigating this complex regulatory environment.
What to look for in compliance technology
When looking for technology, keep an eye out for the following features to help you stay compliant:
- Interoperable: Care providers often use multiple systems (some are still paper-based). One each for managing audits, incident reporting, risks and hazards etc. Not only is this time-consuming and costly, but it can also lead to missed or inconsistent data. Technology that integrates seamlessly to streamline work and share data is essential.
- Easy to use: You want a product, not a project. Ensure any technology is intuitive and easy to use by a wide range of user tech savviness.
- Configurable: Your technology should adapt to you, not the other way around. Ensure workflows can align with current processes, tasks and structures.
- Reporting: Easily access or generate reports for auditing purposes.
- Support: Is there a customer support team to help you with any issues?
- Notifications: receive real-time notifications about activities such as due dates, completed tasks, reminders, or feature updates.
- Policy management: Can you store and access compliance documentation, policies and procedures?
The pace of change
Frequent and rapid changes in regulations often result in duplicated efforts and significant time spent away from patient care. When new or updated regulations are issued, a provider must quickly mobilize both clinical and non-clinical resources. Teams need to understand the regulations and proceed with redesigning, testing, implementing, and communicating new processes throughout the organization.
The compliance process heavily relies on the availability of staff resources. As new or revised regulations are introduced, it is crucial for a provider to promptly involve their staff.
This includes individuals dedicated to quality reporting, legal and compliance tasks, who may already be engaged in other important responsibilities. Additionally, care delivery staff, responsible for direct patient care, must also be redirected to participate in this process. These teams then must collaborate when analyzing regulations, occasionally seeking clarification from regulators and trade associations, and subsequently restructuring, testing, implementing, and communicating new processes across the entire organization. Consequently, this requirement reduces the time available for delivering care by providers and necessitates the reallocation of resources.
The value of automation
Automation can play a crucial role in helping senior care providers stay compliant with regulations. Here are several ways automation can assist in maintaining compliance:
- Streamlined documentation: Automation can streamline the documentation process by digitizing and centralizing important records, such as patient information, medication administration, and care plans. This ensures accurate and up-to-date documentation, reducing the risk of compliance errors.
- Real-time monitoring and alerts: Automated systems can monitor critical areas, such as medication management, resident safety, and staff certifications. They can generate real-time alerts and notifications to inform providers of potential compliance issues or deviations from protocols, enabling prompt corrective actions.
- Compliance tracking and reporting: Automation can facilitate tracking and reporting of compliance-related activities, such as staff training, certifications, and audits. It helps maintain comprehensive records, simplifies compliance audits, and ensures that providers can demonstrate adherence to regulations.
- Task automation: Routine tasks, such as scheduling, reminders, and checklists, can be automated, reducing the chances of human errors or oversights. This allows staff to focus more on providing quality care to seniors rather than getting burdened with administrative tasks.
- Data analysis and insights: Automated systems can analyze vast amounts of data to identify trends, patterns, and potential compliance risks. By leveraging data analytics, senior care providers can proactively identify areas that require attention and take preventive measures to maintain compliance.
- Integration with regulatory updates: Automated systems can be programmed to receive and incorporate regulatory updates, ensuring that providers stay up-to-date with the latest compliance requirements. This helps senior care providers adapt quickly to changes and avoid compliance gaps.
Choosing Technology to Support Staff
Look for technology that can improve the employee’s ability to perform the job, while also helping to improve or derive quality outcomes. At the same time, it’s essential that the technology doesn’t cause a burden to staff. Good technology should eliminate redundancy, and it should be capable of compliance.
The following questions can help a senior care organization better understand their need for technology:
- Is the technology to improve your care delivery and/or to improve staff workforce solutions?
- What is your primary audience – staff, residents, or a combination of both?
- How will the solution not only meet your current needs but also anticipate future needs?
- How does the technology adapt to future industry regulations?
- What are the minimum requirements for success – your need-to-haves and like-to-haves?
The final word
Senior care providers face significant challenges in staying compliant with regulatory requirements. To keep on top of the many aspects of a compliance-forward organization, a comprehensive approach is necessary. The goal should be to identify areas where requirements can be streamlined or eliminated, freeing up resources for patient care. It is important to recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach may not be feasible and should address the unique challenges of individual organizations.