CLEVELAND — “McKnight’s Long-Term Care News” recently honored Life Care Centers of America with two of its Excellence in Technology Awards, which were announced between Sept. 30 and Oct. 4.
The locally based health care company took the Gold Award in the Quality category for its advancements in health care data analytics. It also won the Silver Award in the Transitions category for its internally developed electronic health records system.
“We are extremely proud of the national recognition our IT department has earned,” said Beecher Hunter, Life Care president. “Their imaginative development of systems and programs sets standards in the health care profession. Their work directly and positively impacts the care our residents receive and the improvement of its delivery by our associates.”
Over the past five years, Life Care’s Information Technology department has built its own business intelligence system to analyze data from its more than 220 skilled nursing and rehab facilities around the country.
“One of the greatest demands in the health care space right now is data analysis,” said Terry Leonard, Life Care’s chief information officer. “Other parts of the health care continuum are continually asking for more data.”
The initiative began with the vision of Life Care’s chairman and founder, Forrest Preston. He compared the complexity of running a nursing home to that of driving a car. His idea was to develop the equivalent of a car’s dashboard — a location where all types of data are gathered together to give a snapshot of where the organization is and where it is headed.
Life Care’s business intelligence system is built from multiple automated processes that run hourly, daily, weekly and monthly to keep its clinical, financial and human resource information as up-to-date as possible. Once the data has been gathered and processed, it is available to more than 1,000 leaders across the country.
“The primary goal is to get our leaders on the same page, save them time, improve their decision-making and ultimately improve the level of care our residents receive,” said Mark Gooch, director of business intelligence for the IT department, who oversaw the project.
The Silver Award highlights another way Life Care IT is evolving. In 2010, Life Care decided to design, develop and support its own electronic health records system. Named SofCare2, it has been built upon employee feedback — from management to floor staff across the nation.
SofCare2’s initial clinical module was released in June 2011. In January 2012, Life Care added a follow-up module for its on-site physicians, and a new rehab module will roll out in 2014.
“SofCare2 has uniquely positioned Life Care in the long-term care industry and allows us greater flexibility to change according to the times,” said Joy Abraham, vice president of applications development, who has headed the SofCare2 development.
This summer, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services certified SofCare2 as a Stage I Meaningful Use EMR, recognizing it as an electronic health program that improves quality and transitions of care. This designation also qualifies SofCare2 for the CMMS Incentive program.
“This is a phenomenal time in Life Care’s IT history,” Leonard said. “There’s so much development going on right now.”
Founded in 1976, Life Care is a nationwide health care company with headquarters based in Cleveland. Life Care operates or manages more than 220 skilled nursing, post-acute and Alzheimer’s centers in 28 states.