Interoperability generated the most excitement for the leaders of long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC) organizations gathered at the annual PointClickCare user conference – #PCCSUMMIT19. Surprisingly PDPM, the new payment model for LTPAC, last year’s dominant topic, was barely mentioned.
PDPM – Barely A Ripple
On October 1st, 2019 the LTPAC industry experienced a seismic shift in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement. That was the day that the new Patient Driven Payment Model (PDPM) came into effect, replacing the old RUG-IV payment system. For those not familiar with PDPM, think of it as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service’s (CMS) way of pushing the LTPAC industry towards value-based care and away from fee-for-service (RUG-IV).
At last year’s #PCCSUMMIT18, there were numerous sessions dedicated to helping attendees unravel the mysteries of the new payment model. All of those were standing-room only. PDPM was also the topic of almost every hallway conversation. There was even a PDPM “expert bar” where attendees could get their questions answered. Check out this Healthcare IT Today article about last year’s event.
At #PCCSUMMIT19, however, PDPM barely caused a ripple. There were a few breakout sessions on the topic and there were plenty of seats available in each one. PDPM was barely mentioned in the opening keynotes from company founders Mike Wessinger, CEO and Dave Wessinger, President – a stark contrast to last year where they spent most of their time on stage talking about it.
Most of the buzz and excitement at this year’s event was generated by three key announcements:
- The company’s partnership with Carequality
- The inclusion of Carequality functionality as part of the base subscription to PointClickCare
- The general availability of the company’s Harmony product in mid-2020
…which would translate into three key benefits for PointClickCare customers:
- Making the patient transition experience smoother and safer
- Reducing the administrative and communication burden of tracking patients/residents
- Differentiating the post-acute organization from competitors
Transitioning patients from an acute care setting is frought with issues. Important treatment information, medications and physician notes are often printed, placed in a binder and sent along with the patient when they are discharged. Often the information in the binder is incomplete. Worse, occasionally the binder completely goes missing. Staff at the post-acute provider then have to spend time chasing down the paperwork. In the meantime, the newly transitioned patient may not be receiving the full treatment regimen because vital information is missing from their file at the acute care provider.
Making care transitions as smooth and as safe as possible is a primary goal for PointClickCare. On numerous occasions the Wessingers have publicly stated this goal, but more importantly, they have dedicated significant resources to addressing it. The Harmony product is the manifestation of the company’s effort.
It is through Harmony that PointClickCare’s customers will be able to retrieve CCDs from Carequality and over time, from other sources like Commonwell and HIEs. When a patient referral is received by a PointClickCare customer, they will just have to click a button on the screen and a request to Carequality will be made. Once the user verifies the Carequality search results, the correct CCD is then downloaded and will populate the PointClickCare record.
Data Transparency Excitement
Harmony, however, will also allow data to flow the other way. With Harmony, post-acute organizations will be able to share information with their acute care partners. Instead of having to request paper or phone updates on their patients, case workers at acute care organizations will be able to see the status of their patients in real time via a Harmony portal (and perhaps one day directly in the acute care EHR). This will eliminate faxing patient data and reduce the time case workers and care coordinators spend chasing post-acute staff for patient updates.
This degree of clinical and operational transparency comes at a time when LTPAC partners are demanding to more and more metrics on their patients.
Interoperability As A Differentiator
When BJ Boyle, Vice President and GM of Post-Acute Insights at PointClickCare demonstrated the CCD retrieval and how the data auto populated the patient record, there were gasps of delight and audible “wows” from the audience. The excitement grew even more palpable when Boyle showed Harmony’s dashboard and data transparency capabilities.
The positive reaction, however, was not just because of the technology. An informal poll taken by Healthcare IT Today after Boyle’s demonstration revealed that the reaction had more to do with how Harmony would boost their competitive standing.
Post-acute organizations vie for patient referrals, mostly from acute care providers. To get more referrals, they need to:
- demonstrate they have better outcomes for patients/residents in their care;
- be responsive to requests from case workers and care coordinators;
- forge strong relationships with community partners
It was clear to the attendees at #PCCSUMMIT19 that Harmony would help them be better partners to acute care providers. Through Harmony they would be able to have meaningful data-driven discussions about patient care, be able to communicate in real time, reduce the amount of paperwork for themselves as well as for their partners AND provide a better, safer patient experience.
In other words, post-acute organizations saw interoperability as a strategic advantage and as a differentiator. This is completely different than the way Interoperability is discussed in the acute care market. There, interoperability is seen more as an operational challenge or as means to an end (ex: data sharing is needed in order to use a new app), not as a differentiator.
This was the most intriguing take-away from #PCCSUMMIT19 and it will be interesting to see if interoperability in the post-acute world gains traction faster than it has in other parts of the healthcare ecosystem because it is viewed in this strategic light. In the meantime, PointClickCare customers are look forward to having a leg up on their competitors.
“Harmony is a game changer,” said Jason Dugenio, Chief Information Officer at Bridgeway Senior Healthcare. “It represents PointClickCare’s commitment to customers. They saw a way that they could help us and committed themselves to building it. It’s so nice to work with a company that lives up to the commitments they make.”