Why Assisted Living Case Managers Should Have Access to Residents’ EMRs

Over the years there has been a marked departure from what was always considered a nursing home for seniors. These had very little to do with what we now associate with senior living and for a very good reason. Nursing homes are seen as being more of an institutional framework whereas senior living, independent living, and assisted living are the freest of possibilities. 

Indeed, nursing homes can be on a level with geriatric wards in hospitals for those patients unable to provide their own daily care. While they are less formal than hospital wards, they are run in much the way due to the needs of their patients. Within this paradigm of what nursing homes are and how they are meant to operate, case managers already have access to their Electronic Medical Records. Unfortunately, this is not always the case with residents in assisted living or independent living communities. Do you ever wonder why that is?

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Perhaps It’s the Level of Care?

A patient in a nursing home is considered a patient whereas those who reside in senior living communities are residents. Therefore, someone in a nursing home St Louis Hills style model can be both, a patient and a resident. Being in a setting that is more institutional than a senior living residence automatically grants case managers access to their patients’ EMRs.

But if a case manager needs access to an EMR of a resident in an assisted living home, that approval may not be in place. If not, it could take days to get approval and by then, the information they needed may no longer be of use. Bear in mind that in even the least restrictive of settings in senior living, residents rely on medical assistance for everything from medications they are prescribed to any physical therapy sessions that are part of their care. In this regard, case managers need access for a number of reasons.

Scheduling the Right Care Team

One of the responsibilities every case manager has is to assign teams to the care of patients based on their level of training and experience along with the needs of the residents. Some residents may be fully self-sufficient but may have medical needs that only a nurse can meet. Over time, case managers get to know their residents better but until then, what if they need to access their patients’ medical records to look for a history of a behavior they are now witnessing? Could this be the onset of dementia? If there is nothing in that patient’s digital file, the case manager could add their observations for doctors and therapists to evaluate.

It Isn’t Against HIPAA!

According to the law as it now stands, only people involved with the healthcare of that ‘patient’ have the right to view information it contains. Other people can be granted access by the patient or the patient’s guardian, but what about residents who exist in the land between patient and resident? Are case managers given the ability to view those files for tasks they can’t possibly complete without background information?

Technology is in place to make the process seamless and so, by granting residential case managers the authority to access pertinent information, care can be faster with significant improvements. Isn’t that what technology is all about anyway? 

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