iCare to develop aged and community care solution, integrate with PCEHR

Aged care clinical software vendor iCare has acquired UK-based community and home care specialist h.e.t. Software, with plans to integrate the two technologies to provide one solution for aged care providers active in both the residential and community care sectors.

iCare is also rolling out version 2.10 of its clinical, care and medication management software, which includes Healthcare Identifier Service functionality, and is currently working on version 3, which will include full compatibility with the PCEHR. It expects this work to be completed in 10 months.

iCare and h.e.t. Software have an existing relationship, including some joint customers in Australia, iCare's managing director, Chris Gray, said. h.e.t. Software has had several customers in Australia since 2005, while iCare entered the UK market in 2007. It added a medication management module in 2008 and is Australia's leading software provider for aged care, covering over 45,000 beds.

Mr Gray said the acquisition was driven by market needs, with residential aged care providers increasingly moving into community care, stimulated by more federally funded community care packages under the Community Aged Care Package (CACP) program and the desire of older people to stay in their own homes for longer.

“We are seeing significant growth in community care from residential aged care providers,” Mr Gray said. “What they are looking for is one record, so that when somebody is living in their home and there is nursing and care staff going to look after them, they want that record to be picked up and to be able to be seamlessly moved into the residential setting when they move into residential care.

“You are seeing more and more community care packages and you will see continued growth as the government gives people the opportunity to stay in their own homes for a longer period. You will enter a residential aged care facility now when you are older and frailer and towards the end of life. The demand for residential aged care is continuing to grow, there's no doubt about that, but community care is where new models of care will emerge.”

h.e.t. Software has a number of solutions, including CareManager3, which covers rostering, allocation and availability of staff as well as regulatory compliance. It also has a mobile device called CareManagerMobile to track carers and staff via GPS, and a full CareHomeManager solution, which includes clinical and care management such as care plans, daily notes, assessment forms and handovers, invoicing and billing, rostering and staff management, and medication management.

It recently released a new web-based application called CareOnline that enables service users, their families and care workers to securely log into information supplied directly via CareManager3.

Mr Gray said iCare and h.e.t. Software would work on integrating the different solutions so that information collected when the client is still in the home is automatically available when he or she enters residential aged care.

“What will eventually happen will be one solution,” he said. “Whether you want community care or residential care with medication management, you just turn that piece of software on. For community care, you might just need some help with the shopping or the gardening but over time your needs increase. In the home, your clinical needs aren't as intensive as when you go into an aged care facility, however there are some important things that are able to be picked up within that record, such as medical history, current medications and allergies.

“There will also be information coming from the PCEHR. We want to make sure that all of those records are present when you enter the aged care facility and no information is missed. What you want is your history of medical information and medications, having the right privacy settings, being able to be shared with the aged care provider.”

iCare was named as one of the five members of NEHTA's aged care software vendors panel in June, and is now starting work on integrating a number of capabilities to be compliant with the PCEHR. It has already including the ability to link to the Healthcare Identifier (HI) Service in its current version 2.10, following its work on the MedView project, one of the Wave 2 pilot sites for the implementation of the PCEHR.

MedView is up and running in its trial site at Barwon Medicare Local as well as Tasmania Medicare Local, Inner East Melbourne Medicare Local, and at two Medicare Locals in Brisbane. The project is aimed at creating a repository for prescribed and dispensed medications that can be accessed by aged care facilities, general practitioners, pharmacists and hospitals. It expects to be ready for launch as the national medicines repository early next year.

Mr Gray said iCare has set itself a 12-month program of work from June 2012 to integrate a number of different eHealth functions, and with HI Service functionality already included, iCare is well on its way.

“Over the next 10 months, we will start to deliver our next version of the software, not just the HI Service but the ability to download and upload clinical information through the event summaries, shared health summary and discharge summaries,” he said.

“That will become so valuable for aged care providers. One of the key areas for aged care providers is if Jane Citizen goes from an aged care facility to a hospital, right now information is not moving electronically. There are some trials going on but on a practical level what happens now is that the information is printed out, put into a yellow envelope and sent with Jane Citizen, and that is re-entered into the hospital system.

“She may be there for three weeks – say she has had a fall and broken her hip – so there are changes in the level of care, changes in medication. She may have gone over with seven medications but because of the fall different medications are added or others are subtracted.

“Then when she comes back to the aged care facility, all of the information comes back on pieces of paper and you have to get the GP back into the aged care facility within a set period of time to redo the medication chart.

“There are gaps in the information and this is where having the PCEHR will be useful. The hospital can send up information about the patient, the aged care facility can send up information, the GP adds the shared health summary, the history of prescribed and dispensed medication, all of the other clinical information that is required. That is the change that we are starting to see with the PCEHR and all of that will be available in our software in the next 10 months.”

Posted in Aged Care

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