Patient Transfers to Post-Acute Care Rely Largely on Outdated Manual Methods, Hindering Optimal Care

The following is a guest article by BJ Boyle, VP & GM, Post Acute Insights, PointClickCare Technologies Inc.

While electronic health records are commonplace today in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, a new study reveals surprising statistics when it comes to transferring patient data between these facilities. Providers are routinely sharing essential patient information manually by fax, email, phone and paper records. These inefficient methods are prone to mistakes, mismatched details, and omissions — hindering optimal care and increasing cost.

At PointClickCare, we wanted to better understand the types of technology used during transitions of care, as well as the challenges and opportunities this technology presents. Our 2019 Patient Transition Study asked respondents, including c-suite and other executives from acute and post-acute care facilities, to provide input on data sharing, concerns about interoperability, and other pressing pain points in care delivery and coordination.

According to the study, while more than half of long-term post-acute care providers (LTPACs) use a combination of IT and manual processes, surprisingly, less than 2 percent are using IT strategies alone to coordinate patient care and transfer data. Even more startling, more than one-third of acute care organizations, compared with 7 percent of LTPACs, rely on manual processes only. The study revealed many challenges for the acute and post-acute care industries and potentially dangerous scenarios for patients when transitioning care.

The CMO of one hospital said, “the routine is [patients] leave with an envelope full of their charts, and we don’t have shared EHRs.” Without the right information exchange, costs increase and patient care is delayed. For example, one patient’s transfer out of the hospital was held up until the next day because the post-acute care transfer team sent the wrong type of wheelchair multiple times. Even after the correct transfer equipment finally arrived, the receiving facility had none of the patient’s information and had to subject the patient to the entire registration process from scratch.

In addition to inconveniencing patients, this also raises risks for healthcare providers. “Sending a patient to a facility that doesn’t have a good intake process is a poor reflection on us,” said one hospital CIO. And, when patients have to be readmitted, the paperwork problem happens in reverse, with emergency department personnel relying on paper instead of complete information about care provided at the post-acute care facility and the reasons for the transfer.

There is a tremendous opportunity for organizations to implement a cloud-based infrastructure to streamline secure data exchange between all providers involved in each patient’s care. For example, enabling data exchange with PointClickCare, the leading cloud-based software vendor for the acute and post-acute care markets, gives providers a much greater opportunity to optimize care and reduce problems that could result in patient readmission. Furthermore, prompt resolution of these issues is necessary with the upcoming Medicare overhaul which will shift reimbursement to a value-based model.

Opening data access to all pertinent care providers is essential for fully-realized interoperability. By enabling all stakeholders to access and exchange insights through a secure, single source, the result is faster, more confident decision-making, enabling smoother transitions of care.

To download a copy of the study, visit our website.

About B.J. Boyle

B.J. Boyle is vice president and general manager of PointClickCare’s Post-Acute Insights division.  In his role, B.J. is responsible for leading a team that is focused on enabling hospitals, health systems, and their long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC) partners to better communicate, collaborate, and share critical patient data. Learn more at

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