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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Memphis Finds Residential Care Facilities have Low Utilization of Information Technology Systems for Medication Management

A study led by Dr. Soumitra Bhuyan, an assistant professor of health systems management and policy at The University of Memphis School of Public Health found that residential care facilities (RCFs) have a low adoption of computerized systems for electronic medication management (EMM). The four medication management functionalities included in the study were maintaining lists of medications, electronic ordering for prescriptions, maintaining active medication allergy lists, and warning of drug interactions or contraindications. About 12 percent of the RCFs adopted all four EMM functionalities. Additionally, maintaining lists of medications had the highest adoption rate (34.5 percent), followed by maintaining active medication allergy lists (31.6 percent), ordering for prescriptions (19.7 percent), and warning of drug interactions or contraindications (17.9 percent). Unlike hospitals and nursing homes, RCFs are not required to provide medical care. However, an increasing number of residents with medical needs are using these facilities.

Dr. Soumitra Bhuyan
[Photo: Dr. Soumitra Bhuyan]

“These EMM functionalities may be more important in a non-medical setting such as RCFs. Unlike hospitals, RCFs don’t have physicians or other clinical staff who have adequate knowledge about medication side effects and contraindications always on site” said Dr. M. Paige Powell, assistant professor of health systems management and policy at The University of Memphis School of Public Health, who is also a co-author of the study. The authors highlight the importance of improving the quality of care in long-term care settings such as RCFs, owing to the increasing number of baby boomers and the growing prevalence of chronic illnesses. The authors say that adoption of EMM could be a strategic attempt by RCFs to provide better quality of care to their residents and meet the increasing market demands. Further, another co-author, Dr. Olayinka Shiyanbola, assistant professor of social and administrative sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Wisconsin-Madison notes that, “The Affordable Care Act does not incentivize long-term care settings to adopt electronic health records’ computerized functionalities and hence, adoption of such functionalities may be costly for the RCFs”.

The study utilized a national sample of RCFs obtained from the 2010 National Survey of Residential Care Facilities and found that a relatively low proportion of RCFs adopted computerized capabilities for EMM and this adoption also varied for different types of EMM functionalities. The study found evidence that some inherent characteristics of RCFs such as facility size, private nonprofit ownership, Medicaid certification, director’s education and licensure, and use of personal care aides were associated with the adoption of some of the EMM functionalities. The study was done in collaboration with researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha.

The findings from this study were published in the June issue of the Journal of Medical Systems

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