Ask the Experts, News, Skilled Nursing Facility

How do electronic health records fit into long-term care?

Though long-term care (LTC) facilities are not eligible for direct funding for electronic health records (EHR) under the meaningful use program, EHRs are gaining popularity in these settings. Adoptions of EHRs in LTC can reduce medication-related errors, improve clinical documentation, and better coordinate information exchange between healthcare settings, leading to improved resident-centered care.

Making the move to electronic can benefit your facility if you’ve done your research. Industry expert Maureen McCarthy, BS, RN, RAC-MT, recommends asking the following questions to determine if your facility is ready to make the transition efficiently and safely:

  • Which systems are going electronic? Facilities should look at their care plan library to determine this answer before beginning the process; they should also understand how their care plans will need to be customized once transferred to the electronic system.
  • How does information flow within your facility? Many facilities forget about some components done on paper, meaning they get missed in the move to an electronic system. Go through step-by-step and document your process prior to going electronic.
  • How does this information populate to the assignment of nurses’ aides, to a care plan, or to a nursing assessment? You may want to set up some points in the system that review the data before you accept it into the EHR.
  • Do staff understand the software and coding levels? Review data and process once a week (for a larger facility) or once a month (for a smaller facility) to allow for on-the-spot staff education if errors are found.

“Approach it from a quality assurance improvement perspective,” says McCarthy, who recommends looking at the move to electronic from a global level as opposed to viewing it from separate disciplines.


Do you have experience with electronic health records? Have you authored a book or published an article? We’re looking for an author to update a book for HCPro on electronic health records in long-term care! If you’re interested, contact Brianna Shipley at Let’s chat!