Kathleen Unroe
Kathleen Unroe. Courtesy of Regenstrief Institute

Q: You’ve created an app to help make hospital discharge information more accessible to nursing home nurses. Why is this issue so important?

A: The reason that people go to a nursing home after being hospitalized is due to their needs for additional support for medical complexity. Receiving information that is inaccurate or delayed ties the hands of the clinical providers in the nursing home, making it more difficult to provide safe and appropriate care at the time of transition. Medications for pain or other conditions also could be delayed.

Q: Your app translates data to produce usable, easily accessible information. Why has the federal government not helped make this happen sooner? 

A: This is an issue we have had the technology to solve for a long time, and I and other clinicians are frustrated that the situation varies so much by facility and by discharging hospital. I appreciate that CMS is pushing hospitals to take responsibility for transmitting appropriate and timely information to nursing homes to support care transfers. Our work is focused on how this information should be optimally presented so it can be integrated into workflows. A nursing home admission nurse or admitting physician should not have to sift through a pile of paper or dig through lengthy electronic health records to capture basic pieces of data that we need. 

Q: You plan to create a prototype that could become publicly available. What are the benefits?

A: Costs of staff training are reduced if the time is put into thoughtful, user-centered design. Increasing sophistication of medical record systems and a greater push for interoperability mean it is possible to get widespread solutions into nursing home use.