Better Care Coordination Starts with Consensus All Access

Healthcare, Interoperability
4 minute read

When facing new regulations, healthcare providers can take one of two paths — do the minimum necessary to tick the regulatory box or determine how the change can positively impact patient care.

One regulation we’re all very familiar with when it comes to compliance is the CMS Interoperability and Patient Access Final Rule. Official as of May 2021, the CMS Final Rule provides a great example of how compliance can enhance patient care. The rule requires quick, easy, and efficient exchange of patient data among providers and from providers to patients. Better care coordination has been shown to improve health outcomes, reduce hospital readmissions, and lower care costs.

We all recognize that phone calls to busy providers often don’t get recognized or returned and that paper faxing remains a common communications tool in healthcare settings, despite its inefficiency and lack of security. That’s where the Consensus All Access platform can help by enabling more effective workflows that can improve patient care. The better workflows optimized by web-based data availability, can help create a virtuous circle of care coordination that benefits both patients and providers.

Hospital Eliminates 150 Daily Record Transactions, While Speeding Care

A 200-bed community hospital in California replaced its manual processes with Consensus All Access, an advanced clinical data exchange system that provides on-demand, 24/7 access to patient records. Using an applications rules and integration engine, along with account and subscription verification capabilities, All Access ensures that correct patient information is securely delivered in a timely manner to the right provider. Community providers don’t need full EHR permissions to access data, which is automatically encrypted to HIPAA standards.

During the first month of go-live, the hospital had connected more than 300 local providers who were successfully receiving notifications and corresponding documentation. These workflow changes eliminated about 150 daily phone calls and paper faxes from the hospital’s health information management (HIM) department. In less than a year, the hospital delivered more than 1.4 million event and reporting notifications. It also shared over 70,000 ED encounters, 57,000 outpatient encounters, and 50,000 pre-admit and admit encounters.

The hospital experienced the following improvements:

  • When a high-need patient presents in the ED or is transitioning from an acute care setting, care managers are immediately alerted, enabling providers to engage the entire care team in an intervention plan.
  • PCPs and other care-team members are immediately alerted to patient events, improving post-discharge follow-up care.
  • Patient-centric care-team communications bring increased collaboration that reduces the number of patients who slip through care-delivery gaps.
  • Since patient records are produced without manual processes, the hospital greatly reduces its faxing and mailing costs.
  • Because alerts are automatic and providers can access records without help, labor costs for HIM staff are lower while the hospital promotes a secure approach to patient data exchange.
  • To ensure stakeholder engagement, delivery and “read receipts” can be used, with an audit trail to track provider responsiveness and identify gaps in care delivery.

Improve Patient Hand-Offs with All Access

Advanced communication methods can lower costs by eliminating expensive, time-consuming traditional methods like paper faxing, scanning, and courier services — a critical metric for hospitals and other providers that are facing higher costs. Given that one-quarter of the nearly $4 trillion spent annually on healthcare in the U.S. is attributed to administrative costs, that’s a meaningful contribution.

The Joint Commission in 2017 issued a Sentinel Event Alert on the potential of patient harm that occurs during an incomplete or nonexistent patient hand-off. Caregivers at each patient transition must be on the same page regarding diagnosis, comorbidities, care plan, potential adverse events to monitor,
and more.

Culture is mentioned as a key factor in hand-offs in the report. The content pointed to the importance of strong leadership and proper resources to sustain and spread best practices so that hand-offs occur in a high-quality manner for every patient, every day, with every transition of care. The ultimate goal, they write, is having best practices integrated into the organization’s cultural norms and expectations.

The authors also advocate technology to “facilitate ongoing communications and feedback loops between senders and receivers by providing as much critical information as possible, including the complete care plan.”

Clinical data exchange platforms, like Consensus All Access, change the way hospitals communicate with clinics and other providers in their community, both in network and outside it. Value-based care delivery requires physicians and other providers to monitor patients throughout the continuum of care, not simply when they’re in the practice for a scheduled appointment.

Robust care coordination greatly benefits patients, keeping PCPs front and center during hospitalizations and lowering readmissions by delivering seamless and timely care to newly discharged hospital patients.