Image of male nurse pushing senior woman in a wheelchair in nursing facility

As long-term care administrators and operators ponder the coming year, documenting everything from finances to resident care will be front and center in their efforts. The reason? Infection control. Thanks to the pandemic, this area of operations is undergoing revolutionary changes, according to information technology exectives.

Having access to robust data sets, including infection rates, bed count, symptoms, medication distribution and more will help providers better coordinate care and plan for possible surges, said Steve Herron, Cerner Corp senior director, Long-Term and Post-Acute Care. Also required will be tracking, monitoring and demonstrating results, he added. 

Claire Stephens, senior vice president, Post-Acute Care, American HealthTech, said providers’ requirements for supporting documentation around disease and infection management with COVID-19 will expand across their workflows.

Among the many other COVID-related needs will be additional documentation on staff reporting and tracking across local, state and national levels as well, Stephens said. This likely will include providing pertinent and useful information on lab results and pharmacy-related data for medications and vaccination reporting.

Skilled nursing facilities could expect some compensation for these newfound documentation efforts in the form of grants and financial incentives, but such funding may have strings attached, like expanded documentation requirements to ensure transparency and reimbursement efforts, Stephens added. SNFs also will be looking for new tools as well as additional time and resources.

Finally, efforts to achieve data interoperability will accelerate as vendors scramble to make up for lost time.

“NetSmart will be focused on electronic health record integration, making data interoperable and sharing it across other healthcare providers,” said AJ Peterson, vice president and general manager of Netsmart, an IT partner with clients in the post-acute care sector.

Those efforts will, among other things, improve and streamline care coordination referrals and transition-of-care issues.