Benefits Of IT Strategic Planning for Long-Term Care

Information technology’s role in long-term care is gaining momentum, as it should. However, many long-term care facilities aren’t prepared to use today’s innovative tools, much less include them in their long-term IT strategic planning.

With residents dealing with chronic health conditions, it’s increasingly evident that assisted living centers should incorporate electronic health record systems into their IT systems. This means taking a closer look at IT Strategic Planning.

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Why Do We Need IT Strategic Planning?

Technology’s role in the long-term industry is increasingly important due to the rising number of seniors in the U.S. By 2030, 1 in 5 residents will be at retirement age, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Communication and interoperability are necessary to provide patient-centered care, but, unfortunately, many long-term care facilities aren’t set up for this.

According to a report published in 2017, 94% of long-term care managers said that hospitals are still sending complex patients with the highest morbidity rates to skilled nursing facilities with nearly no communication.

And long-term care administrators surveyed said that nearly 90% of their facilities aren’t exchanging health information electronically with referring provider organizations.

To provide the quality care their patients need, long-term care facilities must collaborate with other members of the healthcare ecosystem. This includes hospitals, hospices, pharmacies, labs, payers and more.

Facilities have to take a close look at their IT planning today and into the future. This is where IT Strategic Planning comes into play.

Can IT Strategic Planning Help Us Meet Requirements For State and Federal Funding?

One reason long-term care facilities may have been slower to adopt the use of technologies like electronic health records (EHR) is that they weren’t included in the financial incentives that other healthcare organizations benefited from.

All this has changed. Now Medicaid providers, including long-term care facilities, are eligible for both state and federal funds if they adopt secure EHR use.

To effectively use EHRs securely requires IT assessments that IT Strategic Planning provides. It will help you determine what must be retained, for how long, and how to securely share EHRs across your organization and the outside healthcare environment.

IT Strategic Planning Is Essential For Both Clinical Care and Business Success

A strategic plan is crucial to the success of any organization’s use of information technology. But in today’s healthcare environment, it’s necessary to ensure a patient-centered approach. It must focus on optimizing workflows and addressing both patient and staff needs.

If your long-term care facility is struggling with cost increases, regulatory scrutiny and more, an IT strategy can address your issues today and into the future. It will help you develop and execute an affordable strategy that addresses and identifies the following:

  • IT solutions that support your long-term care facility’s clinical and business priorities.
  • How to leverage the best IT tools to achieve your strategic objectives.
  • An IT product roadmap that takes you from today to 3-to-5 years from now.
  • The best way to strengthen your IT infrastructure, IT talent, program management, services and support.

Your plan must consider emerging technology trends and solutions, as well as your health IT vendor selection. It should include cost/benefit considerations and determine the total cost of ownership for significant IT investments like your EHR system and implementation.

Who & What Should We Include In Our Planning?

Along with your IT provider, according to the AHRQ (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality), it’s important to bring the entire clinical care team to the table, engage them in IT decision-making, and listen to them. Then make resident-centered choices, not only facility-centered ones.

AHRQ suggests that you should:

  • Create partnerships to establish best-treatment practices that improve clinical outcomes.
  • Streamline clinical documentation processes with standardized data points.
  • Standardize electronic documentation, databases, and user interfaces.
  • Create weekly outcome feedback reports for the care planning team.

This means giving your front-line staff a voice when designing your IT Strategic Plan.

The AHIMA published 10 Best Practices For Health IT Strategic Planning that should help:

  1. Find a sponsor and obtain organizational buy-in.
  2. Discover and collaborate with other planning partners.
  3. Establish a “light-weight” Strategic Planning Process and a Strategic Plan Template.
  4. Align with Corporate Plans for strategic intent, context, and line of sight.
  5. Conduct a thorough environmental scan and strategic analyses.
  6. Communicate, communicate, and communicate.
  7. Establish top-down and cross-functional business-health IT governance.
  8. Operationalize the plan. Evaluate progress on a bi-annual basis.
  9. Be agile. Update health information and health IT Strategic Plan on a quarterly basis.
  10. Establish branding and messaging.

Need Help Creating An IT Strategic Plan For Your Long-Term Care Facility?

Creating an IT Strategic Plan is important for every type of healthcare organization, including long-term care centers. You must adopt an actionable strategy that addresses the variety of technologies being used today and what’s to come tomorrow in the health IT landscape.

For the help you need, contact the health IT specialists at Radius Executive IT Solutions in Stoneham, Massachusetts.

We are a Managed IT Services partner that provides a wide range of IT support solutions to healthcare organizations throughout New England. Our purpose is to support, guide, and innovate, bringing new ideas and a fresh perspective to the way your long-term care practice approaches technology.

We also strive to share important and relevant news and information with area healthcare professionals. Take a look at some of our recent articles, and you’ll see what we mean.

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