Quality of Care and Quality of Life: PointClickCare Improves Both
Working in healthcare is rewarding, but it’s tough. Doctors and nurses spend a lot of our time as detectives in addition to being medical professionals. We have to shift through dozens of pages of paperwork and documentation to get an accurate picture of just one patient’s situation. It’s a special skill and the stakes are often high.
Without a comprehensive medical history, medical professionals can make serious errors, simply because they didn’t have access to the right information. I’ve seen many things go wrong, and there have been lots of close calls. Chance conversations with patients and their families have often revealed key, life-saving details that a comprehensive record would’ve helped prevent. Equally challenging is balancing this detective work with time spent caring for the patients themselves—something both nurses and patients crave.
Navigating this tension has been the reality for my whole career. I've been a nurse, clinician, and medical records detective for more than 30 years. Unfortunately, most medical records are disconnected in disparate systems and the time spent locating and combing through those records is one of the barriers to effective care and treatment.
The Evolution of PointClickCare
I’ve always found PointClickCare software intuitive and easy to learn. On weekends I used to log into our PointClickCare training database, read their help docs, and watch their videos—much of what I learned was self-taught. I've never been afraid to explore and discover capabilities on my own, and over time I became very familiar with various PointClickCare solutions.
I joined senior living operator in 2007 as a nurse manager, although I also implemented PointClickCare modules. One day, the administrator acknowledged that I was doing two full-time jobs and asked if I wanted to continue being a nurse manager or continue work around PointClickCare. I chose the latter and became the PointClickCare coordinator, coordinating all the training modules for staff.
Today, my role at Fairview-Ebenezer is as a corporate nurse, and my goal is for my colleagues to understand and appreciate how dynamic and robust PointClickCare can be. I get so excited to show my nurses how to save time and become more efficient and am overjoyed when I see the positive impacts of PointClickCare on patient care.
Being Productive and Proactive with Carequality
One of PointClickCare’s recent developments is Connect for , which provides access to the US-wide Carequality framework. Carequality is an interoperability framework enabling nationwide care coordination that allows nurses and administrators to access patient history from referral sources such as hospitals, and quickly and easily reconcile medications and diagnoses. Connect for Carequality allows nurses to pull a resident’s medical record directly into PointClickCare core EHR instead of spending valuable time hunting down and transcribing the physical copy into the system. Connect for Carequality also enables us to connect to more than 4,200 hospitals and 600,000 healthcare providers to obtain a more complete picture of the patient.
I have been waiting a decade for this to happen. Doctors do the best they can with the information they have, but I've seen too many things go wrong because we didn't have all the necessary information in front of us about a patient. When our PointClickCare account manager asked if we’d be willing to do the pilot program for Connect for Carequality, I jumped at the chance.
We started the pilot project in June 2020. Suddenly, we could pull a medical record before a patient arrived at our facility, and immediately access their medications, documents, and diagnoses. From the beginning, it made a big difference in the lives of our staff.
A Reduction in Time and Errors
A groundbreaking feature of Connect for Carequality is the ability to perform keyword searches in different healthcare documents. For example, if I’m looking at a discharge summary from another facility, I can search for key terms that will tell me whether there are any recorded falls, head trauma, UTIs, and more within a given document. Some of the documents we get can be 40–50 pages, and everything used to be faxed to us. But no one has time to read 40 or 50 pages—there’s barely time to read two.
With the keyword search functionality, a nurse can start to look for specific information earlier in the process. It’s possible to have a rough framework for a care plan before even seeing the patient, which makes everything more efficient once they arrive. The admission process used to take a couple of hours but now it takes about 20 to 30 minutes.
Once the patient is in our PointClickCare Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution, I can login and see their medical records from there, too. With access to Carequality integrated into the CRM, it not only saves time, but it reduces errors. Every time someone touches a document to change something, it increases the likelihood of introducing an error into that document. Medical errors can be fatal, and having fewer touchpoints leads to fewer errors.
Navigating and Locating Documents with Ease
Prior to using Connect for Carequality, we had to scan documents and upload them to PointClickCare ourselves. Now, we simply click a button to access and upload Continuity of Care Documents (CCD). We can also navigate through a patient’s CCD swiftly by clicking on a hyperlink that takes you to a particular section of their record.
For example, if I want to double check for an allergy, I can click on the allergy link and it brings me to a list of known allergies. I no longer have to scan through 20 pages, looking for each one. And by being able to view existing patient medications, the time it takes to input medications has decreased by around 90%.
We also have access to patient healthcare information across the country, due in large part to all the hospitals and healthcare providers that have joined the Carequality framework. It’s not unheard of to fall ill or become injured when you’re away from home, but all of your records are someplace else. Carequality makes that less of a problem. We might still have to do some detective work to put some pieces together, but it’s much more efficient.
Connect for Carequality has eliminated a huge step and headache for us when accessing a provider’s notes from a patient visit. Before, the limitations of their note-taking software meant the provider had to finish their notes, print off a copy, and fax it to us. Now, the provider’s notes get uploaded right into the resident's medical record.
This eliminates a lot of paper and saves days’ worth of time. Like everyone else, the healthcare industry is going digital, and that means moving away from hard charts to electronic ones. It’s a slow process, but Carequality has accelerated that process tremendously.
During the pandemic, it’s been especially difficult for healthcare providers to see patients in person, so there’s been a lot of consultations done virtually and via phone. Before Connect for Carequality, they would have to be physically present to read a hard copy of a document. Now, they can access records remotely and securely, so they minimize everyone’s exposure risk.
A Few More Minutes Makes a World of Difference
With more time to spare and easily accessible patient data, healthcare professionals can serve our patients better, come up with a plan of action much faster (even proactively), and intervene in critical situations sooner. By going electronic, we've certainly saved money on paper and toner but the results go deeper than that.
Anytime you can get the nurse away from the computer and at the bedside, the patient is going to benefit. There's nothing worse for a nurse than feeling rushed when caring for someone. For many of our residents, all they want is for a nurse to sit with them, hold their hand, and talk to them.
At the same time, that nurse knows the clock is ticking, and they still have a ton of work to do in addition to caring for all their other patients. The guilt of that can be unbearable, and it takes a toll. I’ve been there myself—you leave the building at the end of your shift knowing your work is done but feeling like you didn't do a very good job at all.
I once had a resident who was so excited to tell me her life story. By the end of it, she had tears running down her face, and she said, "I never thought I'd get to tell my story ever again." Those moments meant everything to her—and there are so many others just like her, who are all alone and for whom patient care isn’t just about medications and diagnoses.
As a nurse, you start to ask, “what’s more important than those moments?” We go into nursing to take care of people, and that’s where our heart is—not in documentation. Sure, it’s a necessary part of the job, but any time that burden can be lessened, we’ll take it.
Quality of Care Impacts Quality of Life
Connect for Carequality has exceeded my expectations. I initially thought the available documents would be more limited and that the process would be more cumbersome but it’s the opposite. Sometimes, the benefits are intangible on a typical balance sheet, but they’re invaluable to those receiving care.
PointClickCare isn’t just a software company. They understand our industry and the ins and outs of our work. I've participated in a number of PointClickCare's advisory committees where they ask customers for feedback on upcoming feature releases and functionalities. We’d offer suggestions based on what makes sense in our environment and how nurses think. The entire process is very collaborative and demonstrates that they put our interests—and that of our patients—first.
The wellbeing of my nurses and our patients is what drives me, and I feel supported by PointClickCare. They’ve streamlined the paperwork and documentation and with the extra time we gain, we can listen to our patients, hold their hands. We can dry their tears and laugh with them. That’s just as much a part of nursing as anything else.