Streamlining Aged Care: new integration boosts clinician efficiency

Medtech Global, supplier of practice management systems (PMS) to more than 80 percent of Kiwi general practices, has worked with New Zealand’s leading aged care software provider, VCare, to allow information to seamlessly flow from primary to aged care.

A new integration between the largest providers of primary care and aged care software in New Zealand is releasing clinical time to care for the country’s growing elderly population.

Medtech and VCare have collaborated via the Medtech ALEX® platform to allow aged care staff to view what GPs have entered about residents in Medtech Evolution in their own system.

GPs with patients in aged care facilities currently have to enter patient information into two different systems, their own PMS and the facility’s platform.

This copying and pasting of progress notes is an inefficient use of their time and can be a source of errors.

An integration with Medtech Evolution via Medtech’s ALEX® platform removes this duplication by pulling consultation notes and a summary of the patient’s health record – including medical warnings, diagnostic reports and recent observations –from Medtech into VCare.

Information only needs to be entered once, driving efficiency and providing one source of truth about the resident.

Users say this means clinicians and carers spend less time in front of a screen, and have more time to spend with patients.

Solving a problem

Alex Cauble-Chantrenne, Medtech clinical integrations programme manager, has a background in aged care software and feels it is a care setting that is overlooked.

She says VCare wanted to solve a data matching problem that both GPs and their aged care customers had identified between Medtech and their system.

“That is what ALEX® is about: finding solutions to the problems and closing gaps in patient care,” says Cauble-Chantrenne.

“Time is precious, in primary care in particular, so it is really heartwarming when we can save GPs some time because they simply do not get enough of it,” she says.

“This not only reduces the burden on clinicians, but is better for patients as caregivers have relevant up-to-date information at their fingertips.”

VCare provides software to retirement villages, rest homes, nursing homes, hospitals, and the disability sector, all the way from a rural five-bed home to the largest aged residential care providers in the country.

Chief executive Chris Graham says this means the potential savings for facilities that have GPs using Medtech is significant.

They can choose to pull information from Medtech on demand, or have scheduled updates where any relevant information on their residents is pulled through.

“One of the challenges is that a facility can have lots of different GPs looking after different patients from several different practices,” he says.

“Following this integration, they can just pull the relevant information into their local system, as long as the GP has given consent.

“Budgets are tight: you have to maximise the value of patient-facing time, so reducing this duplication of effort with data means there is more of that time for patients.”

Graham says the integration work is one way at this stage, but they plan to be able to push information from VCare back into Medtech.

“There is a massive number of New Zealand elder citizens in long term care facilities at various levels: some are very independent, but they are still receiving care services, and there are still GPs involved. This is about removing barriers to handling that information so there is one unified record, one source of truth,” says Graham.

Following a successful pilot, the integration will be made available to multiple sites.

Saving time & reducing risk

Elizabeth Knox Home and Hospital is the largest care home on one site in New Zealand.

Currently home to 215 residents, they are in the process of adding another 68 beds with the new Totara Home opening this July and 80 percent of all Knox beds are hospital-level.

Acting quality and operations manager Margaret Brown says the Knox Home facility uses many VCare functions including admissions, discharges, transfers, care plans, observations, progress notes, and billing.

Elizabeth Knox also has its own medical practice with five doctors on site using Medtech Evolution.

Brown was concerned about the use of two different systems because they needed an integrated clinical record and this involved GPs having to copy and paste notes from Medtech into VCare, which carried risk and was time consuming.

Knox started piloting the new integration at the beginning of this year and VCare now regularly uploads anything new from Medtech in relation to residents.

“I was impressed with the user interface for the uploaded notes as it is very clear,” she says.

“It releases time to care and the benefits were immediate, without needing a complex change management process.”

Brown explains that if a patient comes to them from a Medtech practice they can pull through a summary of their health information on admission, which again reduces risk and the need for duplication of work.

Knox medical director, Jock Carnachan says it saves GPs valuable time as they just need to write their consultation notes once into Evolution. When the nurses click on the icon in VCare any new information is uploaded, or it sends a message that there are no new updates.

The inclusion of diagnostic reports such as radiology and lab reports is particularly useful for Knox Home team members, he says.

Playing well together

Graham says VCare’s philosophy is focused on interoperability, essentially ‘playing well with others’.

“We like to talk to other systems and we like them to talk to us,” he explains.

He says that using the ALEX® platform was straightforward and the interface is very robust.

“It was an easy vendor partnership, so we are looking forward to lots more going on in this space,” says Graham.

When a partner comes to Medtech with a problem they want to solve, the ALEX® team sets them up with a ‘sandbox environment’ to experiment in.

Cauble-Chantrenne says they also get a non-commercial instance of Evolution to see what the Medtech system looks like and how it works.

“This ensures that when we have a partner like VCare building out an integration, they can see where that information is flowing into or out of Medtech,” she says.

“The most exciting thing is when they find other things that they can do and we work with them on a path forward.

“At Medtech we are looking to interoperate as much as possible to build out this healthy ecosystem within aged care and communicate between disparate systems,” says Cauble-Chantrenne.

“We are very lucky to have some really great partners on our ALEX® platform and VCare has been wonderful to work with.”

Image – An Elizabeth Knox team member chatting with a resident using VCare Anyware on a mobile device

Article republished with the permission of HiNZ. Any requests for further use please contact [email protected]