There’s growing interest in care transitions as providers move from fee-based to quality-of-care payment models.  Tom Ferry, the CEO of Curaspan, a company that came out 14 years ago with a software product that automates the care-transition process, has an interesting take on the market. He had an email exchange with HDM’s editorial director John McCormick soon after last month’s HIMSS15 conference. This is an edited version of that exchange.

 With healthcare models moving from the volume of services provided to the quality of care, are providers aware of how important care transition are to providing high quality care?

If they aren’t aware already, they are becoming so. The amount of receptivity we’ve seen in the market, along with the attention we had at HIMSS, has shown us that providers are starting to take note of care transitions. Care transitions have the biggest impact on the most vulnerable, and the most costly, patient populations. Providers are starting to realize this and know that without good care transitions, they will struggle under value-based models.

How would you rate most providers’ ability to handle care transitions?

Well, unfortunately, most do a poor job. Given that the majority of care transitions are still managed using paper, phone and fax, this can cause gaps in communication, lack of standardization, poor patient handoffs and virtually no oversight into the quality of the process.

What are some of the ways providers can improve transition care?

Leverage technology and workflow tools to eliminate redundant administrative tasks and standardize the process. Standardizing care transitions and using technology will provide data and insight, which will support best practices.

Where do your products fit into care transition? And what are some of the features/functions that can help providers with care transition?

Our products are fundamental to supporting care transitions and affect the entire care transition from the moment a patient is admitted to when the patient is at home.  DischargeCentral provides workflow automation tools and enables hospitals and patients to find the most appropriate next level of care. On the other end of the process, ReferralCentral provides workflow automation tools for post-acute providers. Both platforms provide transparency and insight into the entire care transition process and helps pinpoint readmission trends. We also help with population management and can provide alerts for specific populations that hospitals want to track and can help ACO hospitals identify their preferred provider networks when transitioning patients. After a patient is discharged to home, OutreachCentral can help hospitals reach all their patients and identify patients at risk for readmission through automated phone calls.

For a hospital of average size, what is the cost of implementing a Curaspan solution? What type of returns are they seeing on their Curaspan investment?

We’ve priced it in such a way that the cost is commensurate with both the size of organization as well as the benefit that the organization will achieve through the use of the solution.

Who are some of the providers using your products?

From large health systems like Intermountain Healthcare and Methodist Health System to national post-acute chains including, SNF, homecare, DME and dialysis providers, we have approximately 9,000 customers using our solution.

Much of transition care depends on interoperability. How does Curaspan overcome the challenge of data sharing?

By integrating with both acute and non-acute EHRs, we ensure that patient data is sent to the next level of care before the patient is discharged from that provider. We call it “true interoperability” or interoperability with a purpose. That means getting the right information to the right person at the right time and enabling them to perform useful tasks throughout the process. In other words, we wrap work-flow tools around integrations that enable end users involved in the care transition process to more efficiently manage their administrative tasks, provider searches, and clinical communication and hand-offs. This results in high utilization of the application and ultimately greater data sharing across the continuum of care.

Data security is all over the news these days – and it seems as if patient data is the big target. How does Curaspan ensure that patient records are secure?

Curaspan continues to take an active, comprehensive approach to data security that our customers require and expect.  It’s more than spot-welding – some encryption here, better perimeter security there. It’s about identifying assets that require protection and conducting proper risk assessments, implementing processes, controls and awareness training to protect those assets. It costs a lot more to react to a breach and its repercussions than to develop and iteratively improve security programs. 

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