Did you survive the impact of the record breaking Bomb Cyclone?

Last week the East Coast was blasted with Grayson, a “bomb cyclone” smothering us with heavy snow and winds setting multiple records.

Preparing for the blast of the Bomb Cyclone

If you’ve watched the news or opened Facebook, you’ve probably heard about the “Bomb Cyclone” that’s blasting the East Coast. But what exactly is a bomb cyclone and how can you prepare for it?

First off, the intimidating name doesn’t actually refer to the storm itself. The storm has been named Grayson. Instead, bomb cyclone, refers to the occurrence of events as the weather unfolds. The formal term for this is bombogenesis and refers to winds rotating the same direction as Earth in a region where the pressure of the atmosphere is lower than sea level. Essentially, this causes the winds to form a cyclone in the center of the region and the moisture causes precipitation. The lower the pressure drops within a cyclone, the more extreme of a storm occurs.

Considering it’s unseasonably cold in most of the region and Grayson’s pressure has dropped even further than needed to confirm his bomb status, it’s important to be prepared. This explosion of a storm is happening in areas where snow accumulation and chilly temperatures are less usual which means limiting your exposure to the storm is your best option.

Unfortunately we haven’t figured out how to control the weather, but GreyMar promises to have your back when a natural disaster strikes. Hospitals, assisted living facilities, and more can keep their patients safe with the following tips.

In areas where winter road prepping isn’t common, deliveries could be postponed for days due to road conditions. Staff should stock up on surgical supplies, medication, food, and anything else critical to get through the day. Some facilities make arrangements at local hotels so staff can commute safely. This ensures enough staff on hand.

By postponing any voluntary surgeries, rescheduling discharges, and encouraging late term pregnant patients to come in earlier for surprise deliveries, facilities can take the steps to limit any risks.

After 14 nursing home residents died in outages during hurricane season, facilities everywhere have been upping their preparedness. Precautions to consider are: checking on emergency equipment, food, and water, have plenty of generators ready, ensure the heat system is operable, have extra blankets on hand, and plan for an evacuation if necessary.

Another worry to consider is backing up your MARs and TARs. We can’t change the weather, but you can trust GreyMar’s backup system to keep updated MAR’s and TAR’s stored on our cloud. You could have no generator, no power, and no internet and you’d still have a fully functional GreyMar cart from which you can print your PointClickCare MAR’s and TAR’s.

To make sure you’re covering all your bases, make a checklist of what you need to do. Stay updated on if Grayson’s path with collide with your’s with your local forecast. You can visit greymar.io for more information on our disaster recovery service specifically designed for EHR.

GreyMAR reduces HIPAA concerns for EMAR backups

Let’s get one thing straight – the goal of any facility that has any sort of outage needs to get their MARs and TARs printed as fast as possible, plain and simple. Having the ability to do so needs to be simple, fast, efficient, and secure. With modern struggles coupled with outdated technologies for senior living, many of these things can get quickly overlooked.

Most EHR customers are familiar with the provided solution that backups their MARs and TARs in the event of a system wide outage, internet outage, etc. With that being said, there are many concerns a modern facility should recognize during their risk assessment of their backup strategy.

With the list of HIPAA addressables declining and the rise of required items, it is extremely important that senior living facilities utilize EHRs take special note of their backup strategies.

Who maintains your current backup solution?

The facility usually employs or sub contracts an outside IT provider to handle these tasks. While IT may understand the basis of what your EMAR backup is doing, them fully understanding the concept and how a domino affect can happen is very slight. If the solution provided by the EMAR provider is not constantly maintained, you can be affected by many items as described below.

If the device was stolen, is your PHI at risk?

The computer that’s sitting there with your patients information on it isn’t secured most likely. There is a fine line between usability and security, and it’s hard to perfect. Most facilities have unencrypted backups from my experience (or none at all) and the computer can simply be picked up and taken. Without proper precautions, the device can also have a simple USB drive plugged in and PHI stolen this way as well.

How are you alerted if your backups are outdated?

The provided solution from your current EHR doesn’t include notifications if your backups are out of date. Not to mention, if you don’t have an IT guy constantly maintaining the provided solution, you are at risk for outdated EMAR backups. The program has no method for alerting and won’t let you know if something didn’t complete correctly.

How are you alerted if your backup doesn’t complete?

Similar to the last point – the provided solution by PCC doesn’t give you much to run with, and doesn’t show you errors if something doesn’t download correctly. If the file download doesn’t complete, you could be left with outdated backups, corrupt backups, or worse, no backups at all.

Does your staff know and understand how to utilize your system?

It can almost be guaranteed that if you walked up to anyone in the facility they will have little to no clue how to work the backup system. The goal is to have a fast, easy way to print out MARs and TARs, but this can be cumbersome for the everyday nurse.

What if there is a power outage? What about an internet outage?

Some facilities feel their power and internet systems are perfected, but I can tell you from experience being in the business for many years, that is far from the truth. What if the generate transfer switch burns up? Generator doesn’t kick on?

What if there is a large area-wide outage of some sort?

Area-wide outages are something we deal with daily, and it’s becoming more frequent, especially in larger cities. When there is an area wide outage, this can sometimes last for days, up to a week I have seen. We had a client that had no internet for close to a week and needed to stay operational. Luckily with the experience we’ve gathered it was easy for us to keep them operating. Facilities not under our umbrella though, I highly recommended a plan.

What if the files are corrupted?

The technology that EHR chose to rely on for their EMAR backups is very primitive, thus is prone to many system errors and may not reliably work. With that said, it is extremely important that you keep an eye on your backups, or employ an IT person to watch over this.

Are you complying with regulations on who has access to the backups?

Carefully read over the HIPAA regulations and you’ll see that there are many that explain the necessity to maintain audit trails of who has access to your PHI. Just like someone logs into your EHR with a username and password, there needs to be a way to maintain this with the backups, too.

Don’t panic! This is all easily correctable!

These were all problems that we were faced with, so you’re not alone. In fact, just by reading this article, you are likely much more caught up with technology and regulations that your peers, so go you! I’d like to introduce you to a service we’ve created to solve all of these issues.

We’ve solved all of these EMAR backup concerns with a simple product called GreyMAR. Simple put, GreyMAR is a disaster solution designed specifically for EHR customers, and we’ve tightly integrated it with their services. GreyMAR maintains, verifies, and secures your backups. We maintain everything for you automatically, and have built powerful logic into our backup system to ensure it’s up to date, encrypted at every point, and easy to access.

With GreyMAR:

To access your MARs and TARs you do the following:

  1. Go to the website, device, or medcart that your nurse is already using.
  2. Login with specific credentials (this is to maintain audit trails as required by law)
  3. Boom, everything is there, no more clicks.

I won’t go into all of the cool features we’ve built here, but you’re welcome to visit our website at https://greymar.io and check it out, or schedule a demo with me by following this link: Schedule A Demo

But wait, there’s more!

As we continued to grow the service (we’re now backing up 5,000 records a week!) we built in fully automated and easy to use eFax. We’ve also included an emergency phone that can be hooked up into our emergency phone system for your building, but that’s another article and still currently in development.

I hope you enjoy this and learned something. Feel free to send me a your feedback!

If you’re interested in more, sign up for our newsletter here.

Sleep Challenges for Residents in Assisted Living Facilities

In one of her most recent posts, Dr. Eleanor Barbera, an accomplished speaker and consultant with over 20 years of experience as a psychologist in long-term care, dissected sleep challenges of older adults. Dr. Barbera explains the negative side effects coming from these challenges and how they effect basic patient care practices.

“Poor sleep is associated with cognitive and physical deficits. It can impair residents’ ability to participate in rehab and negatively affect their moods and their interactions with others, including the staff members there to help them (whose job is hard enough).

Residents who can’t sleep through the night due to elements within the control of the facility are not happy with this situation. They’re less satisfied with their stays and therefore less likely to recommend the facility to their friends and neighbors.

As illuminating as it would be, you needn’t sleep in your facility for a week to find out which staff training and policies will remedy the problem. The residents have told me what keeps them up at night and I’ve outlined a “sleep hygiene” training program based on that. 

A basic “sleep hygiene” program will:

·      Set the expectation that employees are working in the residents’ homes and should be mindful of their slumber. This includes talking in calm, hushed tones and turning off unnecessary lights after nighttime care.

·      Limit fluids in the evening, provide toileting before bedtime and offer swift, calm and prepared mid-night care that increases the likelihood that residents can go back to sleep.

·      Communicate between shifts so that the elders who have gotten up earliest get to bed soonest if they desire.

·      Prioritize pain management, particularly if it’s interfering with sleep.

·      Refer residents experiencing sleep difficulty due to anxiety or depression to the consulting psychologist.

·      Attend to agitated residents immediately so that they don’t wake their neighbors.

·      Find peaceful nighttime pursuits for elders with dementia-related sleep disturbance such as magazines, drawing or music on headsets.

·      Replace noisy medical equipment such as oxygen machines with quieter models.

·      Select roommates with attention to sleep habits and nighttime needs.

·      Create a policy for quiet hours after, say, 10 p.m. and require low volumes or headsets for electronics after that.

·      Train teams to collaborate between shifts so that they identify and assist residents who are asleep during the day and up at night to reestablish regular sleep patterns.”

We thought Dr. Barbera listed important benefits from using a “sleep hygiene program” and wanted to share them with you!

To read Dr. Barbera’s full post, click here.

GreyMAR is the #1 EMAR disaster recovery suite

GreyMAR enhances your Long Term Care organization’s ability to stay operational during major system outages. Our solution ensures your EMAR backups are able to be accessed 24/7 regardless of system outages.


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