The following is a guest article by Sean Vandeweerd, Sr. Product Manager, PointClickCare Technologies Inc.
Our healthcare system is approaching a critical time in which an aging population will bring baby boomers into hospitals and post-acute care facilities in record numbers. Combined with the nursing shortage, razor thin margins, the need to reduce hospital readmissions, and increased government regulations — the need for technology that can deliver best practices for improving patient care is paramount.
While electronic health records are commonplace in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, technology in the healthcare industry is siloed; IT communication among hospitals and their skilled nursing partners is neither standardized nor coordinated, according to a study by PointClickCare. Unfortunately, it’s common for patients to be transferred from one setting to another without the necessary infrastructure in place to ensure that these transitions will result in positive outcomes for patients.
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 of c-suite and other acute and post-acute care executives revealed interoperability issues between acute and post-acute care facilities, with incomplete patient data, financial impact and security as top concerns.
As more value-based reimbursement reforms affect both the acute care and long-term post-acute care markets, patient data sharing between the two is increasingly important for improving outcomes and reducing readmission rates.
According to the study, interoperability challenges present above-average financial challenges to more than half of all respondents, and many organizations have “very little” ability to access or share patient data electronically. The majority of organizations surveyed are putting a higher priority on implementing interoperable systems for transferring patients.
The existing hitches in information exchange sometimes cause extended hospital stays – which are not always covered by insurance. Interoperable systems would speed patient transfers and cut costs, according to one hospital chief information officer surveyed. “All of a sudden you have a financial implication,” he said. “Transfer of data would certainly help in streamlining the referral to the discharge facility.”
Another hospital executive said, “With better communication between the facilities, we would cut back on readmission and sending patients back to the ER and any sort of miscommunication.” In turn, this would mean better outcomes and reduced costs.
“For so many years we have been using this system without interoperability and have become numb to the possibility of it,” said one survey respondent. “We would very much like to have it, but we don’t know what it would cost.”
At PointClickCare, we believe streamlining interoperability between systems creates huge opportunities for cost reduction, patient care improvement, and reduced workloads for people on both ends of patient transfers. This type of health data exchange also helps improve the transparency and security of data between acute care and skilled nursing facilities, enabling a stronger relationship. And, it enables robust, population health capabilities that are scalable as the number of patients needing post-acute care grows.
We urge healthcare providers to learn more, and to educate staff about information exchange so that they recognize how their work can change for the better. Without understanding how security and privacy are maintained, too many resist using robust EHR solutions. The time is now to enact interoperability solutions.
If you want to learn more about your peers’ challenges and opportunities during transitions of care download the FREE 2019 Patient Transition Study.
About Sean Vandeweerd
Sean Vandeweerd is the Senior Product Manager for PointClickCare’s Integrated Care Management solution. In his role, he is responsible for leading a team tasked with establishing connections between PointClickCare’s Electronic Health Record (EHR) platform and various hospital and health systems. Learn more at pointclickcare.com/harmony.
PointClickCare is a sponsor of Healthcare Scene