North Carolina hospitals augment alert system to improve care coordination

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The North Carolina Hospital Association has launched an initiative to improve patient care coordination across the state with the goal of helping providers efficiently manage care protocols for patients with chronic health conditions.

The association, representing more than 130 hospitals and delivery systems, recently contracted with vendor PatientPing to send to hospital-based and post-acute care providers real-time notifications when their patients receive care.

“As our members work to build models for value-based, patient-centered care, we recognize the need for seamless information flow among all providers regardless of type, technology or geography,” says Steve Lawler, president of the association.

With real-time notifications, care teams can better engage and coordinate during a patient’s healthcare event to prevent duplication of services, reduce avoidable readmissions and improve care transitions.

The NCHA previously developed a tool, called the Patient Data System, to help members better monitor patient activity between healthcare systems, but now the members also need to monitor care coordination with post-acute care providers, including those outside members’ networks, Lawler explains.

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PatientPing got the contract in part because the vendor’s software complements the association’s existing patient tracking tool, which now can be augmented with the new software to notify outside provider organizations, according to Lawler. He also likes the user-friendly interface that provides real-time information.

During the past month, the association has doubled the number of hospitals participating in the alert program, while participation by post-acute care providers rose from 10 to 90 facilities.

Further, use of the notification system during its first month revealed a great opportunity to further care coordination, Lawler adds.

“One of NCHA’s priorities for 2017 and 2018 is addressing hospital readmissions and deaths from pneumonia, especially in the elderly population. NCHA had already engaged home health, skilled nursing and long-term care providers in this effort, along with our member health systems. PatientPing stepped up to offer participating hospitals additional information on all pneumonia patients for 90 days post-discharge during all of 2018.”

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