Oregon’s Office of the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCO) is charged by statute to investigate problems and complaints at nursing homes, assisted living facilities and adult care homes, and to advocate on behalf of residents to improve their quality of life and quality of care. Currently, more than 150 trained and Certified Ombudsmen Volunteers are tasked with investigating and resolving complaints at nearly 2,500 long-term care facilities, and working with agency staff to report results to state and federal authorities. Volunteers perform 75% of the complaint investigation and resolution.
Volunteers formerly relied on a paper-based process for tracking complaints and resolutions. The forms would later be delivered to agency support staff to be manually entered into the Federal database. The lack of consistency in the use of 132 codes printed on the back of these forms contributed to a complex and potentially error-prone process. Processing paper forms could also produce as much as a two month lag between identification of a complaint and staff reviews of the action. New rules and changes to protocol are also constant, making it difficult to ensure compliance in a timely manner. Additionally, without an enforceable workflow process, getting progress updates and ensuring accountability was impossible.
LTCO began investigating no-code tools to build a web application with robust workflow capabilities and discovered PerfectApps. In a few short weeks, they had developed the application, automated the workflow behind it and began piloting the process in three of Oregon’s counties. Within a year, the program had been rolled-out statewide. The new system – which meets all state and federal guidelines for security and privacy – is a more cost effective solution that ensures compliance and accountability. Using a custom, no-code solution built with PerfectApps makes entering, submitting and reporting much quicker and reduces errors. Moreover, the process provides ombudsmen with a better understanding of the codes they choose as full definitions are now only a mouse click away. In addition to the benefits for volunteers, the new system lets agency staff access data easily using automated reports that provide insight into things like open cases, most active volunteers or most frequent complaints.
After over a year of use, state-wide, for case reporting and tracking of volunteer activities, LTCO has seen excellent results:
- Reduced Use of Paper: LTCO has cut the use of paper forms by 2/3 in the first year alone. Additionally, with new rules and protocols changing constantly, keeping paper forms up to date was very problematic. It could take as long as 6 months or more for a change to be designed, approved, and printed. Now changes are quick and are immediately available online.
- Decreased Case Processing Time: Since volunteers no longer have to mail case submissions and agency staff no longer have to manually route forms for review, the case processing time has reduced dramatically. With electronic reporting, volunteers are also more willing to report complaints. The average complaints per volunteer and average complaints per case have increased 15% since PerfectApps was introduced, ensuring investigation of more issues and complaints confounding residents in long-term care.
- Reduced Errors: Volunteer reporting accuracy has improved by 500% with the introduction of PerfectApps. Volunteers can quickly find the reporting codes applicable to the particular situation with keyword look-ups.
- Enhanced Training: LTCO staff previously spent up to 4 hours training volunteers on case reporting. With the new online tutorials and proficiency tests created with PerfectApps, the training time on the mechanics of reporting has been reduced to less than an hour.
- Improved Scalability: The number of volunteers is currently up 30%. With the new PerfectApps application, the existing 6 person professional staff is able to effectively support the increased volume of case reports.
“Replacing paper forms with a no-code workflow application has saved time and simplified tasks, but more importantly, this transition directly supports our volunteers by making their workload easier so they can focus on advocacy rather than paperwork.”
Oregon State Long Term Care Ombudsman