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Increasing internal communication with an Agency Management Platform

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In poll after poll that we conduct with provider agencies across the country, the number one expected benefit from using an agency management platform never changes.  It's simple - increasing quality of care.  It's the whole reason you do what you do and measuring and delivering quality is a number one focus.  One of the areas that's not typically top of mind for providers when working on quality efforts is cross-functional communication.  But, taking a closer look it is an area that when communication is high, quality has the potential to tick up significantly.  An agency management platform becomes a tool for that cross-boundary communication.  Here are a fews ways that happens.

MediSked News Roundup 9/10/14: SCUBA dreams come true

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Here are some stories making news this week.


MediSked News Roundup 9/5/14: New Mexico's Assessment Challenge

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Here's a few of the latest news stories trending in our space.

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Minnesota's 7% Plan for Integrated Employment

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In a recent executive order, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton directed state agencies to hire more employees with disabilities.  As we are all aware by the latest CMS recommendations, integrated employment for folks with disabilities is becoming a more focused effort.  In Minnesota, integrated employment at state government agencies has seen a decline over the past several of decades, a trend that hasn't increased since 1990.  Currently, only 3.2% of Minnesota state employees are listed as disabled and the plan is to raise the employment rate for this population to 7% by 2018.  Since 2010, California, Oregon, Florida, Ohio and Delaware have signed similar orders.  This is a significant act for the I/DD community because it illustrates that in order to change the employment trends for people with disabilities, action and leadership are necessary.  The integrated employment trends will not happen by themselves.  Some keys to making an increase in integrated employment are illustrated by Minnesota's plan.

Your Checklist for HIPAA Compliant Software

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If you are getting into a software solution for your DD agency, an absolute requirement is to make sure the software you choose is HIPAA compliant.  HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.  These two rules are otherwise known as the ‘Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information’(Privacy Rule) and the ‘Security Standards for the Protection of Electronic Protected Health Information’(Security Rule).  Because the software is going to be managing sensitive client data, you cannot risk having it in an unsafe or vulnerable system.  So what makes software HIPAA compliant?  Read on to find out and use this checklist as a guide to ensure that you have HIPAA compliant software.

MediSked News Roundup 8/27/14: Minnesota's mandatory hiring plan

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Here are some DD stories of interest trending across the country this week.

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The Power of Viral Marketing & Fundraising - ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

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Unless you've been living in a cave lately, it's hard not to notice the amount of ice buckets of water that have been poured over the heads of people across the country to raise awareness and donations for ALS.  In fact, Facebook reported this past Friday that over 15 million people on Facebook have posted about, commented or liked a post related to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Over 1.2 million videos of people dumping water over their heads have been posted on Facebook!  In the past three weeks the ALS foundation has received donations totalling over $15 million! That's a 750% increase in donations received compared to the same 3 week period last year!  It all started with a simple concept coming out of the Boston area by a group of folks who challenged friends to either donate $100 to the foundation or dump a bucket of water on their head - or both.   And that's typically how viral social media sensations happen - it's simple and funny and there's heart behind it.

MediSked News Roundup 8/20/14: New "Smart Home" for DD residents

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Here are a handful of articles trending for the week of 8/20/14.

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DD Providers ask "How do I transition to electronic records"

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One of the most common questions we get asked by providers that are using paper based methods to document and collect data ask is, "How do I transition to electronic records?"  It's a great question, because if you've never done it before you don't know how it works.  Is it magic?  Or maybe some computer nerds take your stuff and go into a dark room and come out 8 hrs later and Bam! - now you're electronic!  Understanding this process as you evaluate software is so critical and yet skipped or not thought of by providers.  You don't want to be surprised by the transition.  We cover the transition in detail on our website as we have a dedicated organization inside of MediSked that only works with agencies making the transition.  They are called our Premier Knowledge Transfer Coaches.  To read up on what they do, you can navigate here. 
From our experience, the key to a successful transition to electronic records is not the technology but the people.  Successful agencies do things inside of their organization to get everyone prepared and excited to start working electronically instead of on paper.  If you don't prepare, you could have a mutiny on your hands.  We follow a change management process that has proven to be really successful.  The steps are outline below, but to learn more, download our e-report at the bottom of this post.  The steps are as follows:

For this change to actually happen and be embraced, it helps if your whole agency really wants it. But, if they are used to doing things the old way and don’t see a reason to change, why would they? Leadership understands the overall net positive benefits to the agency, but is takes some work to get everyone else on board. You need to develop a sense of urgency around the need for change. Commonly, this can be done by identifying potential threats or scenarios that show what could happen in the future. In a less negative light, urgency can also be developed around opportunities that could be exploited. In either approach, you must be aware that this change affects everyone, all departments from entry level to executive. The scenarios you use to create urgency have to tie back directly to their jobs. This is a critical aspect of a company’s ability to win buy-in.  We will caution that if you skip this step, your employees may not understand why this change is happening and whenever an organization imposes new things on people without sufficient explanation, there will be difficulties. 

As echoed from the first step, when change is really necessary, then you need to convince people that change is necessary. This takes strong leadership and visible support from key people within your organization. You have to LEAD change, not just manage it. Responsibility for leading change is with the management and executives of the agency. This means doing it in a way that employees can cope with; again not forcing the change. The management team has the responsibility to facilitate and enable change, not the employees. Staff takes their cues from the executive level, including forming their opinion on a new technology. If the executive team is excited and involved in the process, staff underneath will be as well.
The next component is building your team or coalition of change champions and influencers. Effective change leaders don’t have to follow the traditional agency hierarchy, they can be anywhere in your agency. To lead change you need to bring a team of influential people together early and give them responsibility in the project that will empower them and also give the technology and change credibility to others. 

When you first think of change there will probably be many great ideas and solutions floating around. Link these concepts to an overall vision that people can grasp easily and remember. This does three things:
1. Determines the values that are central to the change
2. Develops a short summary that captures what you see as the future (going back to urgency)
3. Helps create a strategy to execute that vision

Once you have a concrete vision set, you need to communicate it frequently and powerfully and embed it with everything you do. Change doesn’t occur overnight; there are major and minor milestones. Use the vision daily to make decisions and solve problems. Your communication of the vision should reinforce the reasons for the change, the benefits of a successful implementation as well as new details of the change as it is happening. How do you constantly communicate your vision? Walk around the office with a bullhorn screaming it down the halls? That could get old real quick. Creating forums for discussion are a good place to start. You can do this virtually or hold regularly scheduled ‘Update Meetings’ with your staff. 

So you’ve created a sense of urgency, garnered the support of your cross-functional team, set a vision and communicate it frequently. Now the transition to paperless with software is happening and it should be smooth sailing the rest of the way, right? Very doubtful. As the change actually begins to happen you will find some people resisting it. Expect to hear feedback like “it was easier before” or “this is cumbersome,” but realize that this feedback is often a mechanism to resist change. You will probably find that there are processes or structures in place that are getting in the way of the necessary change. It’s your job to put in place the structure for change and continually check for barriers to it. Removing obstacles can empower the people you need to execute your vision and it can help the change move forward. 

Nothing motivates more than success. Give your company a taste of victory early in the change process. Within a short time frame you’ll want to have results that your staff can see. Without this, critics might hurt your progress. So it’s important to create attainable, short term targets and not just one long term goal. To be paperless is a goal that could take years. Once you select your software vendor and you begin to implement, you should be planning short term goals and wins along the way to the final implementation. These checkpoints will let everyone see that you are, in fact, changing and doing it in a very planned and communicated way. 

Most often, technology projects fail because victory was declared too early. It’s recommended that you develop an education, training or skills upgrading program to get all of your employees on board and comfortable using the new technology. A lot of times your software vendor will have training programs or schemes in place based on best practices and its usually a good idea to incorporate those into your overall education and training plan.
Once everyone is trained and you’ve built in the technology training as part of your onboarding process for new hires, it’s important to keep looking for improvements. You have changed your culture into one that is sensitive to being empowered and proactive and you should look to continue that approach. Each success provides an opportunity to build on what went right and identify what you can improve.

To make change stick, it should become part of the core of your organization. Your culture often determines what gets done, so the values behind your vision must show in day to day work. This is something that takes continuous effort, so talk about progress every chance you get, tell the success stories and include the change ideals and value when hiring and training. If you don’t have a system for staff feedback to the executive team, try putting one in place. Allowing staff to anonymously take surveys to provide feedback shows them that top leadership is committed to this change for the long run and not just in the short period of time when the change was taking place. In the end, you will come to realize that the actual change from paper to software was only a small piece of the change that takes place. 

A Honky Tonk Good Time at NAQ!

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Last week, MediSked exhibited and spoke at the 19th Annual Conference of QDDPs, put on by NAQ, in Nashville, TN.  The theme of the conference was Individual Empowerment and by the time we left Nashville and met with many of the attendees, there was no mistaking the enthusiasm and determination of the Q's that attended.  We had the pleasure of presenting on two topics - I presented on the move to managed care and the 5 trends that follow.  As usual, when presenting on the topic of managed care, there were a lot of questions and questioning on the future of DD services in a managed care model.  Katie Forsyth, an account rep for MediSked, presented on using an integrated eMAR to reduce med errors and improve the point of care.  

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