The transition to value-based care and bundled payments is incentivizing hospitals to establish data connections with post-acute care facilities like nursing homes and rehabilitation centers. Not only does integration set these organizations up for success under new payment models, it can measurably improve care safety and the patient experience. In this first of a two-part series, we’ll look at what’s driving post-acute care integration and why it’s so important to CIOs.
What’s Driving the Move to Integrate Post-Acute Care Data?
There are three primary motivations pushing hospitals and post-acute care facilities to integrate their systems. The first is our aging population, most of whom will require some form of post-acute care, whether that be rehabilitation, hospice, home health or residential services.
Second, prompted by new payment structures that reward value over volume, hospitals are shifting from episodic to population health-based models of care. This transition requires access to longitudinal health information from across the care continuum. Under these new value-based payment models, hospitals are not paid for avoidable readmissions and must therefore ensure that patients receive proper care after discharge. Hospitals must also measure and report performance against many new quality, outcome, cost and resource utilization benchmarks — for example, the percent of patients experiencing one or more falls with major injury.
Third, hospitals are entering into bundled payment arrangements in which they receive a single payment for all medical services related to a specific episode of care, such as a joint replacement or open heart surgery. These arrangements require effective coordination and data sharing across care settings to track patients’ progress after discharge to a post-acute facility.
Improving Patient Care
So how does integration support patient care in a post-acute setting? To start, integration can automate the difficult manual process of medication reconciliation, making medication lists more accurate and readily available at the point of care. This can improve both patient safety and health outcomes.
Second, with access to lab results and notes from a patient’s hospital stay, clinicians in the post-acute setting may avoid repeating bothersome and expensive tests and procedures. Additionally, having a patient’s longitudinal record — including past medical history, medications, imaging, labs, and diagnoses — supports the development of more patient-centered and effective treatment and rehabilitation plans.
Finally, interoperability provides not only a unified view for clinicians, but for patients and their families as well. Instead of requiring patients to act as a “human interface engines” who have to cobble together their encounter history from paper records, their information can be aggregated across care sites and presented in a single patient portal. This allows the patient or their caregiver to be a more active participant in the treatment process and easily communicate with their treating providers.
In the next part of this series, we’ll discuss challenges to integration and how to prepare your organization for interoperability.
This piece was written by Glen Mamary, CIO Advisor for J2 Interactive, a software development and IT consulting firm. Mamary previously served as CIO at Hunterdon Healthcare and Chief of Information Resource Management with the Department of Veterans Affairs. To view the original piece, click here.
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