Transitions hampered by info exchange between venues of care

Transitions in care between providers offering different levels of care are still mired in manual processes that hampers the ability to coordinate care.

A new survey examines the processes of how patients are being transitioned from acute-care providers to the long-term and post-acute care treatment environments. The research suggests that the difficulties in moving patients from one setting to another may grow as a problem as Baby Boomers begin to enter into hospitals and post-acute care facilities in record numbers.

Combine that with a nursing shortage, razor-thin margins, the need to reduce readmissions and ever-increasing federal regulations, and it is imperative that the long-term market automate to deliver best practices for improving long-term care, says B.J. Boyle, vice president at PointClickCare, a vendor of platforms to eliminate data silos and enable collaboration and insights among various types of providers.

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“We live in a siloed system, where communication among hospitals and their skilled nursing partners is neither standardized nor coordinated,” Boyle contends. “It is common for patients to be transferred from one setting without the necessary infrastructure in place to ensure these transitions will result in positive outcomes for patients.”

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The survey, which PointClickCare conducted with Definitive Healthcare, a vendor of intelligence on hospitals, physicians and other providers, found only 2 percent of long-term care providers are using IT-only strategies to coordinate care and transfer data.

More than one-third of acute care providers are using manual processes to coordinate patient transitions with the long-term care community, and only 7 percent of that community is coordinating with acute care providers. In short, these silos don’t appear to be coming down any time soon, Boyle notes.

“These findings demonstrate that in a value-based payment era, manual patient-data handoff still reigns supreme, significantly increasing the risk for provider errors and a breakdown in patients’ continuity of care,” he adds.

Even worse, when patients have to be readmitted, the paperwork problem happens in reverse, with emergency department personnel relying on paper instead of complete information about care provided at the post-acute facility and the reasons for the transfer.

Interoperability also remains a large barrier for providers to handle:

  • 61 percent of acute care providers agree interoperability challenges present above-average financial challenges, compared with 50 percent of post-acute care providers.
  • 73 percent of acute care providers are putting a higher priority on implementing interoperable systems for transferring patients, compared with 64 percent of post-acute providers.
  • 52 percent of acute care providers have little ability to access or share patient data electronically, compared with only 24 percent of post-acute care providers.

Boyle believes that to drive care coordination, providers need to move from paper-based referral processes to electronic referrals using the Continuity of Care Document. “Let’s not stay with the status quo, but focus on data exchange that spurs action,” he says.

When acute care providers start to look at long-term care providers and see that they have the same information technologies as acute care, that’s when the acute care side will understand that they can collaborate with long-term and other types of providers and streamline workflows among each other, Boyle predicts.

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