In 2013, the Alzheimer’s Association estimated that 5.2 million Americans were diagnosed with the disease. This number is expected to grow to 7.1 million by 2025 and 13.8 million by 2050.
It’s not news that the growing demands to meet regulatory and compliance mandates have providers torn between resident care and time spent meeting documentation needs. A logical approach to technology that crosses disciplines and meets regulatory needs is key to addressing the increased demands for effective dementia care. Here’s where electronic health records (EHRs) can come into play.

EHR Solutions Support Dementia Care

EHRs can support dementia care in three important ways:
■ Facilitate and guide the delivery of standardized care protocols to leverage current best practices in dementia care and allow organizations to evaluate and improve the efficacy of their current dementia programs;

■ Ensure resident data are captured in a consistent manner so that they can be analyzed for trends in population and individual resident health to facilitate proactive interventions that can improve the quality of life for residents with dementia; and

■ Allow for individualized, person-centered care plans and documentation to give the interdisciplinary team a holistic view of the resident to support more effective care coordination, ultimately resulting in better outcomes for the resident.

Leverage Current Best Practices

Dementia research is driving new approaches to care and changes in best practices. Given the rapid pace of change, it is challenging for clinicians and caregivers to keep current with the latest information. Clinical Decision Support (CDS) embedded in the EHR gives providers access to evidence-based care plans reflecting current best practices that can then be individualized to the needs of the resident.

Care plans based on standardized protocols also allow organizations to evaluate the effectiveness of their approaches to dementia care and the programs they have implemented. Absent consistent care planning and delivery, it is difficult to determine and demonstrate to the market that the organization’s approach results in better outcomes for residents with dementia.

Data Capture, Outcomes Analysis

While notes regarding observations and events are helpful, information regarding a resident’s condition must be captured in a consistent, quantitative manner so that it can be analyzed for trends to drive proactive interventions and changes in the care plan to improve outcomes.

The EHR solution should include a Point-of-Care module that allows users to add options that trigger targeted data capture from caregivers at the bedside through touch-screen, device-friendly technology. This solution adds value to real-time behavior monitoring, which lends itself to future analysis.

The EHR solution should also provide a tool to allow for the analysis of data in real time. The value of analyzing Minimum Data Set (MDS) data is diminished, as those data are typically 90 days old. While it can be helpful to look back in time, the goal should be to improve the quality of life for residents today.

The analytics tool should also be able to aggregate data from third-party systems so that factors such as staffing can be analyzed in conjunction with resident data to determine the impact of other factors on resident outcomes.

Person-Centered Care Plans

The EHR should be both customizable and evidence-based. As stated earlier, this allows the interdisciplinary team to document and easily access the holistic view of the resident, which is imperative to providing person-centered care and improving outcomes.

The EHR should allow providers to build a comprehensive plan of care that individualizes attention, interventions, and outcomes for residents. Clinicians and caregivers should be able to:

■ Build individualized and interdisciplinary care plans, with customizable goals and approaches, at a corporate or facility level for controlled access to standardized documentation;

■ Build custom tasks and interventions in Point of Care to ensure person-centered care and treatment;

■ Promote documentation of exceptions to care to further define and customize care, allowing review of changes in status and condition; and

■ Provide quality Point of Care reporting:
–Adding the ability to find educational opportunities for staff;
–Providing quick evaluation of resident care; and
–Evaluating quality measures related to MDS tracking of dementia and dementia-related

An EHR that can address the unique requirements of dementia care and incorporates access to current, evidence-based protocols for dementia care can enable providers to meet the increasing demands of caring for more residents with dementia. More importantly, it can help providers improve the quality of life and deliver better outcomes for residents with dementia.

Megan Lenthe, RN, BSN, is the senior clinical product manager at MatrixCare. She can be reached at or (952) 995-9904.