Nurse looking at data on tablet
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Increasing interoperability has the potential to help long-term care providers address some of their worst pain points, experts pointed out at a McKnight’s Online Forum session Tuesday. 

Ongoing partnerships between the federal government and businesses are pushing toward creating seamless and accurate information sharing between networks — driving efficiency, improving care outcomes and reducing burnout for care workers — predicted speaker Micky Tripathi, PhD, national coordinator for health information technology at the US Department of Health and Human Services.

“It’s such a critical part that is overlooked in terms of how important it is and what the burdens are across the entire system,” Tripathi said, “especially on those LTPAC [long-term and post-acute care] providers who are at the receiving end of this deluge of information.”

Tripathi described ongoing government efforts to create a “nationwide network of networks” — the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA). Providers signing onto the agreement would be able to receive streamlined and accurate information from other providers all across the country — reducing paperwork and admin time while also ensuring only the most relevant data is shared.

“Interoperability is the foundation for solving healthcare’s biggest problems,” stressed Peter Schoch, MD, chief health officer at Kno2. “We don’t need just a bunch of raw data points — we need the right data, delivered at the right time, in the right format, to the right person, in their workflow such that the data actually becomes information and knowledge we can use to impact clinical decisions and clinical operations.”

Time to make it ‘real’

Schoch acknowledged the many struggles long-term care providers face in their daily operations, including thin profit margins, high turnover and staff burnout from the demands of the job.

“The less administrative work that we have those providers doing… the less burnout they see and the less turnover they have,” he told attendees. “I think that is the key — coming to the table with workflow solutions that take a vast 80-page document and saying, ‘I know what you’re looking for at the long-term care facility to facilitate the most frictionless intake possible that meets all your compliance and regulatory standards.’”

Both experts stressed that getting connected to a network that allows interoperability is a key step providers should be taking to improve their outcomes, especially with long-term care poised to become an even more vital part of the healthcare continuum as the US population ages. 

“Nationwide network interoperability is here and [providers] should be asking their vendor partners how to make it real for them,” Tripathi said when asked to identify the single most important takeaway from the session.
Earlier, he emphasized that TEFCA and interoperability will be increasingly important to both federal agencies and providers in the years to come — describing “very keen interest” from both.