Data collection a breeze with analysis wizard

Like a business deal written on the back of a napkin during a long lunch, an application to crunch therapeutic-intervention data in aged care began as a simple sketch on a yellow pad.

“TALogWiz” – which was recently runner-up in the Best Implementation of the Year over 650 Places/Clients at the 2013 Information Technology in Aged Care (ITAC) awards – is the brainchild of IT and therapy staff at WA-based aged care provider Bethanie Group.

The application was inspired by a need to enter and interpret a large amount of accurate resident data for group and individual therapy in a time-efficient way, and thereby improve resident care and staff morale.

There was no way to capture group data in the facilities’ clinical management software, which meant that every single resident’s record needed updating for group session. There was also no way to track non-participation or refusal.

“My passion is service to residents,” therapy services manager and TALogWiz co-creator Felicity Beaulieu said. “What are we doing? How do we know what we are doing is working?

“The majority of residential aged care facilities struggle with this process of how we measure the leisure and lifestyle and therapeutic interventions for the clients we care for. I didn’t feel comfortable with, or confident in, the data we were collecting.”

TALogWiz is used by occupational therapists, physiotherapists and therapy assistants across Bethanie’s 15 residential sites, from Yanchep in the north to Bunbury in the south.

TALogWiz’s front end is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, with a Microsoft Access database at the back end. The data can be uploaded to iiCareHealth's clinical and care management software, or extracted from the software into TALogWiz, via a unique resident identifier.

Approximately 50 Bethanie Group staff enter data in TALogWiz, and Ms Beaulieu generates monthly reports of resident participation from that data for uploading into the clinical management software.

“Historically, those spreadsheets could take days to analyse, whereas now on average it takes a couple of hours,” Ms Beaulieu said.

The reports are sent to each site, and staff can see what group and one-on-one therapy has taken place, and whether the interventions meet each resident’s care plan. The aim is a multidisciplinary approach, so that the reports are seen by all staff, not just the therapists. Reports are also shared with residents’ families.

Therapy and IT systems staff met in early 2011 to brainstorm a solution, and the pilot was launched a year later.

Ms Beaulieu emphasised the importance of bringing together end users and developers to work collaboratively.

“I think sometimes IT departments can be issued with a project and go off and develop something, or the therapy team will come up with some solutions on their own,” Ms Beaulieu said. “What was really special about this project for me was the integration of the two.

“And one of the biggest things there was giving the end users the opportunity to say thank you. It’s a really simple thing, but I think IT departments are so often removed from the way that their amazing work has an impact on the clinical care provided.”

Ms Beaulieu said that TALogWiz had lifted staff morale by reducing the data-entry burden.

The efficiencies gained from the application are stark. There has been an 82 per cent reduction in data-entry time, which means 182.5 hours more per week can be devoted to face-to-face care. This equates to putting on 4.6 more FTE employees.

“All of us get into this for the interaction with residents,” Ms Beaulieu said. “Sitting in front of a computer entering data is not good for the residents and it’s not good for staff.

“With the workforce issues that are faced in the aged care arena, it is important that our staff are happy doing what they’re doing, or they will exit left – particularly for Western Australia with the resources industry that we have.

“We minimise the systems and processes, and allow staff to provide the care they are so good at giving.”

While statistics are not available on retention, Ms Beaulieu said that evidence of an improved working environment could be drawn from the increasing numbers of staff moving from casual to permanent employment.

Another positive indicator is that young professionals who had previously shied away from the aged care sector are now approaching Bethanie Group for work. Ms Beaulieu said the facilities now have a “steady stream” of OT and physiotherapy graduates coming on board.

Quantitive research into improvements in quality of care has not been undertaken yet, but Ms Beaulieu said that by making a resident’s data more accessible and intelligible, staff are much more attuned to warning indicators, and interventions can take place faster than before.

“What we’re seeing in the aged care sector is that with increasing acuity and turnover, we have to be far more responsive to residents’ changing needs than we ever have before,” she said.

“The key is you get up in the morning and you love what you do.”

Posted in Aged Care

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