Electronic Records: A New Frontier in Adult Care Homes

Most hospitals and skilled nursing facilities adopted electronic medical records years ago. Now, larger community-based facilities, such as assisted living and residential care, are slowly adopting electronic health records; however, the adult care home industry has yet to jump on the electronic records bandwagon.

This lag in adoption is likely due to several factors. Adopting electronic records can be more challenging for adult care home providers without electronic record experience who may initially believe they lack the money, staffing, and infrastructure to implement this change. Fortunately, these potential barriers are not insurmountable.

As larger facilities migrate to electronic record-keeping, it is simply a matter of time before more and more providers in Oregon start implementing electronic record-keeping systems in their adult care homes.

One trailblazer in the area of electronic record use in adult care homes is Shannon Carskadon. Shannon owns and operates Silver Cloud Adult Family Homes in Forest Grove and has been in the business for 25 years. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Shannon to talk about her experience transitioning to an electronic records system earlier this year.

The system Shannon uses is supported through Beaverton-based company Care Facility Management Systems, LLC, which works with individual adult care home providers to “cost-effectively transition their business operations from paper to electronic records.” Owners Gueipin Xi and Elaine Hartman bring over twenty years of experience providing technical support and security to health care clients.

Interview with provider Shannon Carskadon

(Interview has been edited for brevity and clarity)

Have you used electronic records for your homes before?

I used Excel files, which I printed out for licensing, but I had no system set up.

What made you decide to transition to electronic records?

There were current issues [with the hard copy records]. At licensing inspections, the books would be torn apart and nothing got put back correctly. There was too much repetition and similar mistakes. There was a huge potential for medication errors.

Elaine [with Care Facility Management Systems, LLC] called me and asked if I’d be interested in helping build this program for use in other adult foster homes. The company takes care of online security with a private network, and provides training and support to use the system. I was all for it.

Electronic records system main screen

Tell me about the process of transitioning your paper records to the electronic records? How long did it take?

Gueipin and Elaine provided me with the hardware and software, set up, and training. They also provide the system security, and ongoing technical support for the electronic records system. The support is amazing. Often, providers are isolated. For me, it feels like a professional system with support and cohesion.

The support is amazing.

on working with Care Facility Management Systems, LLC

At first, it was about 10-15 hours of work at the first of the month. I first started with medications only [eMAR], and it took as long as it takes to enter medication orders. The eMAR is a no fail system. For example, with a PRN, caregivers have to write the result in the record, or they cannot close the entry. Also, I can easily track narcotics using the system.

There was a learning curve, but my caregivers picked it up quickly. We worked on it piece-by-piece until they were comfortable with each section.

Elaine then came to my home with a large scanner. I scanned all resident records into the system and they’re saved in a secure folder. All the [paper] records I have left are in two binders.

What are some other benefits of the system?

I can send and receive [electronic] faxes to the doctor, and I can have legal representatives electronically sign documents.

We also use the system to document resident activities and facility records, such as smoke detector testing. I can add reminders and tasks for staff. Caregivers log in with an individual login and see the reminders and tasks. I can run reports and look at tasks that were done. I can also see when caregivers read an email I sent.

My data is secure and consistently updated, and I can access the information securely and remotely. If we have a fire or earthquake, I can get into the system remotely and I don’t have to worry about losing records.

Tell me about your renewal inspection after you started using an electronic records system.

It saved a lot of time. The inspection at my first home was in January (2019), and the renewal inspection of my second home was in March. I learned from the first inspection, and had everything ready to go for my second inspection. The licensor was in-and-out in two hours and got everything [the licensor] needed. I had no medication violations.

The licensor was in-and-out in two hours….I had no medication violations.

What advice do you have for other providers who are considering the transition to electronic records, but are concerned about either cost, the challenge of transitioning, licensing, or other issues?

Take the time to learn the program. It’s especially beneficial for multiple homes. I can run compliance reports, and I can check on caregivers remotely and run audits to see who logged in, when, and what actions they took. The program is customized so it meets licensing requirements. If you do your due diligence, the system helps you be compliant.

Finally, the cost is worth it. It’s less than ink and paper, and that doesn’t include the time saved. We’ve been thrilled with this. I can’t say enough positive about it.