Industry Commentary: Effective Communication Key To Improving Care Coordination During Transitions

By Bevey Miner, Health IT Strategy/Chief Marketing Officer for Consensus Cloud Solutions

Research shows that when a hospital transfers a patient to a long term post-acute care (LTPAC) facility – such as a skilled nursing facility, inpatient rehab facility, assisted living or home health agency – the data sharing between providers often involves the use of disparate technologies to communicate patient data. In most cases, that means a combination of paper-based faxes, phone calls and emails to communicate other details pertinent to the patient’s care. These typically inefficient, labor-intensive data-sharing tools are prone to human error that could place the patient at considerable risk.

The ability for LTPAC facilities to effectively send and receive patient information is critical to providing the day-to-day care patients need, while improving their overall health outcomes. This includes the capacity to manage incoming and outgoing patient data such as Direct secure messaging via the DirectTrust framework or patient information queries for providers live on Carequality, data exchange networks like ACOs and HIEs, digital faxes and more.

This need for LTPACs to enhance resident data intake workflows and enable information sharing through transitions of care is what led me to develop a piece for McKnight’s Long Term Care News. Leaders in the institutional long-term care field regularly turn to this influential publication, and I wanted to leverage their reach to offer insight on the reasons why post-acute providers should deploy the right tools for patient-data interoperability.

“But it’s critical that LTPACs be able to effectively send and receive patient information. A study of more than 900 nursing homes found a strong correlation between EHR implementation and facility quality. Much relevant information is passing among other healthcare providers, but LTPACs are unable to ingest that information into their recordkeeping systems and use it to better patient care.

Regardless of whether a facility has an EHR, long-term post-acute care facilities must address the fundamental need to communicate with upstream and downstream providers to fully participate in the continuum of care.”

I go on to explore how greater emphasis needs to be placed on interoperability for efficient care transitions and how CMS is continuing to move the industry in that direction with the release of a new rule set to go into effect on May 1:

“Long-term care providers should consider upgrades in technology to take advantage of new Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services rules that will soon require hospitals to provide admission, discharge and transfer notifications to the downstream provider team.”

The article concludes with how a data-sharing solution that streamlines workflows can help providers gain access to critical patient data and enable better care coordination. Read my complete article published in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News by clicking here.