There is no question that cross-continuum care coordination is a good thing—the more various healthcare entities work together to deliver appropriate and timely interventions, the better off patients will be. That said, care coordination has often been viewed as a nice to have rather than a critical mandate. However, that is changing as the federal government approves legislation that requires diverse healthcare organizations to cooperate.
One such mandate is the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation (IMPACT) Act of 2014. While predominately aimed at the post-acute community and their preparations for risk-based care, the legislation’s overarching goal is to enhance collaboration among all members of the care team.
One specific rule in the IMPACT Act requires hospitals to ensure patients are directly involved in choosing where they will receive care after they’re discharged from the hospital. Not only does the legislation require patients to be given a choice of post-acute facilities, they must have control over the final decision, and hospitals are required to have an audit trail of the process. To meet the rule’s objectives, hospitals may consider employing care coordination software that delivers customized information about possible post-acute providers to the patient at the point of care. Using the software, case managers craft a short list of clinically-qualified facilities, narrowing the placement options by inputting a patient’s personal preferences, including cost, requested amenities and preferred style. After processing these preferences, the software is pre-loaded on tablets for patients and families to use to compare facilities—using images, videos and testimonials to rank their top choices. Not only does this allow for more educated decisions, but the software records the data and enables hospitals to document the process and remain compliant.
Once patients have transitioned to the next level of care, hospitals should work closely with post-acute providers to keep patients on track, continuously confirming that care is proceeding according to plan. To this end, hospitals and post-acute providers may want to leverage configurable communication apps that all members of a patient's care team—including primary care physicians, hospital care managers, home health nurses, pharmacies and family members—can use to discuss the care plan, monitor the patient's path after discharge and receive updates as the patient’s needs change. These types of solutions can even notify relevant care team members when interventions or escalations are warranted.
The IMPACT Act is just one piece of legislation pushing healthcare organizations toward greater care coordination. By embracing this regulation, as well as other similar requirements, organizations can take the next step to provide higher quality care and improve patient outcomes.