Will LTPAC Facilities Catch Up to the Technology Curve?

While other systems in the health care ecosystem are coming together to exchange data, long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC) organizations have generally been absent in HIE adoption/participation. Many LTPAC facilities rely on rudimentary systems and little EHR use – partly due to no financial incentives (for example, Medicaid and Medicare EHR incentive programs). There are growing demands that may switch the stage for LTPACs and technology, including the Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirement to transmit care summaries during transitions.

We know transitions across the continuum are costly and critical points of care that benefit from interoperability and secure data exchange and care continuity. A 2013 ONC issue brief points to a study that showed in 2008 almost 40% of all Medicare beneficiaries discharged from acute-care hospitals, received post acute care. Of those beneficiaries, 15.5% were readmitted to acute care hospital within 30 days.

The reality now is that LTPACs are behind the technology curve. According to a December 2013 survey by LeadingAge and Ziegler, of 94 LTPAC participating facilities:

  • 30% digitally share information with residents’ other providers;
  • about 28% electronically prescribe and electronically share medication orders;
  • 25% exchange laboratory orders and results.

This is a handicap for the network approach to health care delivery that affects care coordination, particularly during transitions of care. Time to treatment and intervention and the patient experience will only benefit as LTPAC organizations begin to employ more technology and choose certified EHR technology to exchange standardized clinical data. With technology adoption, there will be less waste in time and orders, tests or other services; less medication errors; and faster time to access patient information. Meaningful Use requirements, not financial incentives, and new delivery models such as ACOs and patient-centered medical homes, may be the biggest motivators; the end result will be more meaningful exchange of information in a more meaningful way.

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