Nursing home, therapy executives: Invest in information technology

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Nursing home providers would be wise to pump money into information technology to create more efficient, profitable businesses, panelists asserted Tuesday at a CEO round table discussion at the annual meeting of the National Association for the Support of Long Term Care (NASL) in Nashville.

"You have to bite the bullet and invest in information technology-to show your customers and payers you're serious," said Richard Matros, CEO and chairman of Sun Healthcare Group. Matros, who led Sun out of bankruptcy proceedings about five years ago, said his company has recently introduced numerous new IT systems and innovations.

"Handheld technology has really changed the dynamics in therapy," agreed Paul Diaz, CEO of Kindred Healthcare, citing the ability to make more evidence-based decisions. "It's improved productivity and efficiency. It's helped from compliance and quality perspectives."

Still, one executive cautioned against overwhelming employees with information technology.

"We actually must restrain ourselves from investing in (too much) information technology because the staff can digest only so much," said John Short, Ph.D., president and CEO of RehabCare Group. "We're going to wireless technology because it can save 10 minutes per day (per employee). Every time a surveyor comes in and asks, we can hand them a disk" with treatment information on it and challenge them to find problems. "It's really hard to 'game' this stuff," he noted.

The NASL annual meeting was held Sunday through Tuesday in conjunction with the American Health Care Association annual convention and expo, which concludes today. For live interviews with more on the CEOs's views, visit www.mcknights.com later today and this week and click on the blue "videos" link near the top.
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