Hospital, nursing home information sharing to become 'routine,' government agencies say

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As sharing of electronic health information becomes standard across all care settings, using technology may become a prerequisite for providers to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, according to a newly released government strategy document.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology released the “Principles and Strategy for Accelerating Health Information Exchange” on Wednesday. The report follows a request for information that the agencies issued in March.

The “vast majority” of comments recommended that the government support electronic health record adoption among long-term care providers that are currently excluded from incentive payments, according to the report. In addition to direct incentives for LTC providers, some commenters also supported increased regulation to increase EHR use in these settings.

“The majority of commenters favoring regulation and/or revised conditions of participation thought it most appropriate for SNFs, nursing homes, and home health agencies,” according to the report. “For example, several commenters suggested that survey and certification processes could be leveraged as a mechanism to accelerate HIE and adoption of interoperable EHRs in the SNF and nursing home settings.”

Current incentive programs for acute-care could be used to spur greater adoption among post-acute providers, such as through requiring information sharing through e-summary of care reports, the report stated.

“Eventually, as the market for HIE services matures and providers' HIT capacity evolves, sharing of e-summary care records across hospitals and SNFs and nursing facilities will become a routine part of care delivery and a common business practice,” the authors wrote.

Click here to access the complete report.