There have been many changes to society in the past 20 years. One of the areas that has changed the most is technology. In 1996 cell phones were bulky, heavy, and rare. Computers were also large and took up lots of space on your desk and the internet was just beginning to take shape. Social media did not exist. My how things have changed!
Blakeford has seen many changes in technology as well. These changes have allowed us to continue to serve our residents with a personal touch while taking advantage of innovations that allow us to do so more efficiently. Having the right team members, and having access to the right information, at the right time, and in the right place is critical when meeting the diverse needs of our clients, residents, and members.
Blakeford has invested in technology systems that allow our team members to be engaged in delivering the best care possible while meeting resident needs and preferences. These systems also allow Blakeford to continually raise the level of care offered and meet regulatory requirements set in place by state and federal governing bodies.
FIRST A LITTLE HISTORY
In 1996 most information was contained on paper. We had the right information, but were challenged with it being easy to access where and when it was needed. Each resident required a lot of paper files and the burden of managing this information was substantial in terms of cost and efficiency. As the years passed it became apparent that a better system had to be used for Blakeford to deliver the best care.
The first attempts to use technology were on a department by department basis. This resulted in several systems that did not “communicate” with one another. As an example a resident’s information was entered in up to 5 separate systems! What was needed was a single system that would operate in every department within Blakeford. A system that could tie each service line together while saving time and resources.
First step, build a team: In 2009 Blakeford decided the time was right to create a department to oversee all technologies. The new Information Technology (IT) department would set strategy, provide support, and establish Blakeford as a leader in the field. This department focuses on business systems and provides support for residents.
Second step, build a platform: After an extensive search for the right business system Blakeford chose Answers on Demand (AOD) to be the technology platform for the community. This comprehensive software system allows every department to operate and communicate with all other departments. Residents are now entered only once and are immediately available in all apartments.
AOD allowed for increased security as well since access rights can be restricted to just what each team members need to see to perform their tasks. Having this single platform resulted in less data entry time and more face time with our residents. Team members can now enter relevant data into AOD and this information is available to the right team members, at the right time, and in the right place. The need for paperwork has been reduced by more than 80% and this continues to improve.
Blakeford still needed a way to communicate with our team members. Policies, procedures, office communications, requests for days off, training requirements, and all the items that are required with a staff of more than 200 team members presented many challenges. To meet this challenge an intranet site, MyBlakeford.com, was created to be the central place for team member related information. Use of the intranet site has had a profound impact on communications and team member involvement. MyBlakeford.com continues to evolve and grow to meet the needs of team members.
RESIDENTS AND TECHNOLOGY
Blakeford has also focused on technology opportunities for our residents. In 2009 a survey was conducted to measure how technology was being used by existing residents. It was found that there were five computers in use. In 2016 this number has exploded with many of our residents embracing our recommendation of using iPads.
By conducting regular iPad classes the comfort level with technology has grown very quickly. These classes, coupled with a strong community-wide Wi-Fi network, have revolutionized the lives of those who were once a little afraid of technology. Watching residents learn from one another is one of the most rewarding aspects of the program.
Is it upon this foundation of success, and the success of MyBlakeford.com, that Blakeford created OurBlakeford.com, an intranet portal for our residents. This portal provides timely information to residents, and their family members, about the menu, special announcements, community events, news, and much more. The resident intranet is also available on touch screens throughout the community.
Technology has the ability to enhance our lives but sometimes it can be confusing or intimidating. It doesn’t matter what age you are, if you are a resident or a team member, Blakeford values individuals’ growth and is here to guide them along. The last 20 years have brought technologies in existence that were mere dreams in 1996. It is both exciting and challenging to think what lies ahead in the next 20 years.
Written by Shawn Clark, the Corporate Director of Strategic Implementation and Technology Services at Blakeford.