With older people usually requiring a greater level of medical care than their younger counterparts, compounded by a high prevalence of dementia, communicating health matters to new clinicians can be a challenge.
While Australia’s My Health Record could provide an excellent information sharing tool, there has been slow uptake in residential aged care facilities (RACFs).
Central Queensland, Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast PHN partnered with Benevolent Aged Care to show how effective use of My Health Record can benefit residents.
If used properly, all clinicians involved in the care of an older person – GPs, nurses, pharmacists and other allied health professionals – can easily access an accurate, complete and current medical history of every patient.
Not only does this assist the individual clinician to provide the best possible care, it also facilitates a team approach to health care, which is ideal in cases of comorbidities.
A dedicated My Health Record staff member was employed at Benevolent to drive the project, working with key stakeholders.
All Benevolent clinicians and residents were educated in the system, with all internal clinical staff and 97% of the residents registered for My Health Record.
A series of new policies and procedures were developed, which included: working My Health Record into the admissions process; developing an internal nurse champion to drive daily use on the floor; and uploading residents’ Advance Health Directives into the system so they are available to all clinicians involved in their care and wellbeing.
As a result of these measures, the My Health record system has now been embedded into workflows and processes at Benevolent, so that clinical use is maintained and becomes regular, with visiting clinicians including GPs now using the system for their patients at Benevolent.
Regular use of My Health Record has meant medical care has become more efficient and targeted, resulting in improved quality of care.
When used in transfer of care, having recent information on hand through My Health Record has reduced the amount of time Benevolent nurses spend following up on health information or care changes, freeing up time to devote to patient care.
Being able to access information prior to a patient returning has also allowed for better support where changes of care are necessary, and more sound clinical decisions.
Following are two true stories about the benefits to residents:
“When Mrs L was admitted to Benevolent for her first respite visit, her family noted that that Mrs L had all her current medical information available on her My Health Record. They were pleased to see that Benevolent could access this information, whereas previous facilities had been unable to do so. This helped staff to focus on comfortably transitioning Mrs L to her new environment.”
“When Brenda was discharged from hospital, the clinical team at Benevolent had the discharge summary with them before her return, which allowed them to provide appropriate care immediately.”
The project has demonstrated how adoption of the My Health Record system within the RACF sector more widely can effectively link healthcare providers and RACFs; minimise mismatch of medication records; and provide better medical care to residents.
It has shown how simple innovation hacks – creating new policies and procedures to make optimal use of new technology – can directly benefit the wellbeing of patients in RACFs.
To find out more visit www.ourphn.org.au