When a patient from an acute care facility such as a hospital is transferred to a post-acute care facility like a skilled nursing facility (SNF) or a long-term care facility (LTC), it’s critical that the patient’s chart follow that patient. Likewise, when an SNF or LTC resident transitions directly into an acute care setting, information about their condition(s), treatment(s), discharge orders, medication(s) and more should seamlessly follow them into that setting so that physicians and nurses have the information they need to deliver proper care.
In theory, care transitions should always work like this. As a practical matter, though, they often don’t—and lack of interoperability is to blame.
Today, the vast majority of hospital systems utilize the Epic EHR platform, while an equally large percentage of SNFs and LTCs utilize the PointClickCare® EHR platform. Each serves a similar purpose; yet these systems are proprietary, and they don’t talk to one another. Consequently, electronic charts, data and other patient/resident information in one system can’t be directly transferred to the other. Instead, care transitions often occur through exchange of printed/faxed information, encrypted emails and even phone calls between charge nurses. If interoperability is the ability to share information between medical record platforms, this situation represents the polar opposite, and in the end, it puts residents and patients at risk for decreased outcomes.
The challenge runs deep through the LTPAC realm. As stated in the 2019 Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Award summary:
“LTPAC organizations…significantly lag behind other healthcare settings in EHR adoption and health data exchange—compromising efficient healthcare management. Many hospitals routinely send complex patients with high morbidity rates to SNFs and, without any communication, negatively impact care coordination, long-term outcomes, and preventable patient readmissions. Approximately, 86% of long-term care administrators reported their facilities are not exchanging health data electronically with referring hospitals, physicians, and home health providers.”
It’s 2021… in our technology-driven world, it should be easy for healthcare providers to securely get the information they need, when they need it, in order to facilitate improved care coordination. And yet, here we are, facing a persistent problem that not only impacts resident/patient care, but LTPAC vitality as well.
What to do? For providers across the long-term post-acute care (LTPAC) spectrum, there are two primary options to consider:
Integrated data messaging through a health information service provider (HISP). Simply defined, a HISP is a secure, HIPAA-compliant network (essentially an electronic middleman) that enables one EHR system to communicate with technology beyond its network. It’s basic, without a lot of bells and whistles—in fact, only documents – not raw data – can be sent through it.
Harmony by PointClickCare®. Introduced in 2019, Harmony is a cloud-based integrated care coordination platform billed as “…a solution designed to empower hospitals and health systems with the insights required for a truly coordinated and collaborative approach to care delivery.” As a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, Harmony enables acute and post-acute providers to eliminate data silos between care partners and leverage meaningful insights through a secure, simplified and integrated platform. Specifically, Harmony allows users to:
Exchange and mobilize high-quality data and information, improving the coordination, real-time patient discharge monitoring and transition of care between acute and post-acute care facilities.
Locate patients, and access detailed patient progress data, providing case managers a centralized and real-time view of the patient.
Access the largest repository of post-acute care data, including display of LTPAC partner key performance indicators and metrics, enabling rapid and accurate discharge evaluation and improved care coordination within the network.
From a pure integration standpoint, Harmony is ideal for many PointClickCare® users, as it’s designed for use within the platform. Beyond that, it offers a functional depth and breadth that is unmatched in the LTPAC space. In addition to the capabilities above, Harmony also provides robust predictive analytics that allows for superior patient monitoring capabilities. For example, its clinical data exchange capability enables acute care providers to better identify when a patient is at risk of readmission from a LTPAC facility, to better facilitate proactive intervention.
So which option could work best for your organization? HISPs are popular options for smaller organizations and health systems that seek a cost-efficient interoperability solution. They are relatively easy to set up and use, given with proper training. Their basic functionality is more than adequate to help ensure that essential documents (again, documents—not data) are shared between healthcare providers quickly and securely.
Harmony, on the other hand, was designed for larger organizations and systems that want to leverage the breadth and depth of a robust data exchange and analytics tool.
How Interoperability Offers Big Benefits to LTPAC Facilities
There’s no question that interoperability boosts coordination of care between acute and post-acute care providers during transitions of care. But the benefits for LTPAC organizations are significant as well. LTPACs compete for referrals every day, and in this respect, quality measures and outcomes matter—a lot. When you deliver positive clinical outcomes, your quality measures and related data reflect that, which, in turn, can help you attain preferred provider status. In the end, interoperability is a win-win for everyone—and the right solutions are at hand to lead your organization down the path.
Contact Richter PointClickCare® Implementation and Training Consultants
Do you have questions about interoperability, PointClickCare® consulting or EHR implementationfor your long-term care, senior living or skilled nursing facility? Contact Richter’s PointClickCare® EHR implementation consultantshere or call us at 866-806-0799 to schedule a free consultation.
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