Appropriate coordination of care and smooth transitions between LTPAC and acute care facilities are critical to positive health outcomes for the aging population. To be seen as attractive partners, LTPAC leaders need to demonstrate that they can meet the needs of acute care providers, especially when it comes to providing resident data that is timely and accurate, both in reports and in real time.
Do you know if your facility meets the needs of acute care providers? To find out where you stand, start by asking yourself the following three questions.
- Are we using a health information exchange to make our data more accessible?
When an individual sees multiple physicians, typically in different locations, portions of his or her complete medical history are unavailable to the current provider almost 80% of the time. This missing information, including progress notes, care plans, medication lists and discharge summaries, often leads to costly mistakes, including misdiagnoses, duplicate testing and medication errors.
As most transitions of care occur in smaller geographic areas, joining your regional health information exchange can decrease that number significantly by providing expanded, uniform access to your residents’ health histories. It can also improve your efficiencies in public health and regulatory reporting by allowing for access to and reuse of your clinical data.
The Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation (IMPACT) Act of 2014 requires acute care providers use an HIE to share data at transitions of care. If your process is still manual, it could be holding your organization back from forming acute care partnerships. Research which HIEs your local acute care organizations are using and determine if the same one would work for you.
Is our data compliant and secure?
Healthcare organizations that do not store their medical records electronically face stiff penalties going forward, as the Meaningful Use incentive period winds down and we enter the penalty phase. Implementing an Electronic Medical Records System into your workflow is no longer optional. Even once you have it in place, however, using it effectively and creating a strong data governance structure is critical.
As the amount of data you collect and utilize grows, it can become more difficult to maintain HIPAA-compliance and transfer data securely between providers. Performing regular risk assessments allows you to review your adherence to HIPAA security and privacy measures in the following areas:
Access – Can you show that only authorized persons can access your residents’ electronic personal health information (e-PHI)?
Audit – Are there hardware, software, and/or procedures in place to record and examine access and other activity in information systems that contain or use e-PHI?
Integrity – Do your policies, procedures and electronic measures ensure that e-PHI is not improperly altered or destroyed?
Transmission – Do your security measures guard against unauthorized access to e-PHI that is being transmitted electronically?
Understanding and avoiding risk is an ongoing process. With the right protection, you, and your acute care partners, can feel more confident that the data you’re sharing internally and externally is safe and complies with all necessary regulations.
Where are our technology gaps?
In order to meet all of today’s healthcare business needs, a strong and mature information technology strategy and infrastructure must be in place. LTPAC organizations must demonstrate that their technology works in providing business value. An informed assessment of your IT organization, including your people, processes and systems, illuminates technology gaps. The output shows both where your organization is performing well and any shortcomings – compared to your competitors and industry best practices – and gives you an informed recommendation for making strategic improvements.
Improve your relationship with your partners
Many LTPAC organizations still use processes and procedures that are significantly manual, but to be an effective part of a LTPAC-acute care partnership, low tech isn’t a suitable option. It’s time to see the benefits technology can provide to the LTPAC-acute care partnership, to your residents, and to population health, as your data is put to even greater use.
Working with a HIE, having a strong data governance structure and optimizing your EMR improves your overall capabilities while improving the flexibility of your organization. It allows you to meet your current requirements, while leaving you room to grow and expand as the needs of your partners and residents evolve. Perhaps that future even includes implementing more complex, innovative solutions such as telehealth and business intelligence, to improve your clinical care, patient safety and organizational efficiency through technology.
Tom Hallisey is an executive IT advisor in the healthcare practice at Hartman Executive Advisors, an independent, strategic technology advisory firm based in Baltimore, Md. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.