Michelle Dougherty, MA, RHIA, CHP,

The 2013 LTPAC HIT Summit, held in June in Baltimore, marked a clear turning point for advancing health IT in long-term and post acute care. While past summits have highlighted the need for technology, key clinical workflows, and standards to advance exchange of information, the 2013 showed that implementation is happening. The sector has moved beyond talking about the need for health IT to demonstrating its use across multiple LTPAC settings. 

The LTPAC HIT Summit is an annual conference that brings together LTPAC providers, vendors, thought leaders, and policy-makers. It is organized by a collaborative of associations and government representatives who work in coordination to advance HIT to ensure resources, technical standards, and provider knowledge are aligned with the nation’s growing need for long term post acute care and services. Priority areas include coordination of care, quality and process improvement, health IT as a business imperative, consumer and caregiver activation and engagement, and workforce acceleration.

ONC’s Chief Science Officer and Director of Science and Technology, Doug Fridsma, kicked off the 2013 summit, advising that the healthcare system is changing with the support of health IT in key areas. Healthcare is evolving from an episodic focused system to a predictive and then to preventive. Health IT tools including analytics and eDecision support software are key in the transformation, and moving to a patient-centered, interoperable care plan that breaks down silos between providers while engaging the patient.

The 2013 summit identified priority areas for technology utilization. New payment models have emerged that require significantly improved care coordination by healthcare providers. New accountable care organizations (ACOs) and arrangements are engaging LTPAC providers and long-term support services in coordinated care delivery to improve outcomes and reduce costs. 

One of the key messages that emerged from the summit is that ACOs will not be successful unless they include LTPAC. However, ACOs will only succeed with a technology infrastructure to connect providers, track measures, and engage patients. To participate in these new payment models, LTPAC providers will need to evaluate their health IT infrastructure and make successful deployment a priority. 

LTPAC providers are partnering with hospital systems to reduce hospital readmissions and using technology to improve information sharing and quality measure tracking.  The use of health information exchange networks, enabling technologies (such as remote monitoring, medication management and safety), and telehealth are tools that have helped pilot projects succeed. 

The summit also identified a number of areas that needed attention and advancement in LTPAC. Analytics, eDecision support, and improved EHR system functionality were called out specifically as crucial improvements needed to align LTPAC with other healthcare providers. A consortium of LTPAC CIOs and nurse executives called for a movement away from the current financial and legacy clinical systems to applications that are interoperable, support virtual care teams, tailored to a clinician’s workflow, and integrate e-decision-making and emerging technologies. You can read more about the Consortium’s recommendations in their report,  EHR Solutions LTPAC Providers Need Today, unveiled at the 2013 summit.

To learn more about the conference, you can access the handouts from the 2013 Summit on the LTPAC HIT Collaborative website. Or visit the LeadingAge Center for Aging ServicesTechnologies website for new resources they released at the summit on EHRs and emerging technologies. 

Watch for information about next year’s summit to be held on June 23 – 24, 2014 in Baltimore, MD.