Technology Lessons from ACMA

Posted by Mary Kay Thalken, RN, MBA on 5/5/17 3:53 PM

From my own experience, I know first-hand that tracking patients post-discharge is an incredible challenge given the sheer size and scope of the effort. Hospitals release hundreds of patients each day, and communicating with them can be challenging.  Many hospitals have begun to focus on those patients who are at greater risk for readmission, such as those with multiple co-morbidities, limited family support, or a history of non-compliance with treatment plans or medication.

Read More

Topics: Healthcare IT, Healthcare Technology Solutions

Monitoring Patients Post-Discharge: A Key Step in Reducing Readmissions

Posted by Jill Reeves, MHA on 3/13/17 1:56 PM

In the past, when hospitals discharged a patient to the next level of care—whether it was to a post-acute facility or directly home—they stopped monitoring the patient’s treatment, condition and outcomes—sending the individual to their next destination and moving on to the next patient in crisis.

 However, times have changed. Hospitals and health systems are now held accountable for readmissions up to 90 days after discharge, and need to keep a closer eye on patients after they leave the hospital, engaging with them to ensure care continuity and mitigate readmission risk. If they don’t, there could be severe financial consequences along with dissatisfied patients.

Read More

Topics: Healthcare IT, Healthcare Technology Solutions

Three Ways Healthcare Can Get Its Interoperability Act Together

Posted by Patrick Yee on 8/3/16 8:30 AM

What were you doing in 2006?

That’s when the American Health Information Management Association published an article on interoperability and noted that “Healthcare’s hottest topic finally has two things it has badly needed: plain language and a sense of urgency.”

Ten years later and surely millions of pages of plain talk later, it appears the author’s nod to urgency may have been a bit misplaced. Granted, healthcare interoperability is a complex topic. Just ask the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

HIMSS defined interoperability back in 2005 as “the ability of health information systems to work together within and across organizational boundaries in order to advance effective delivery of healthcare for individuals and communities.” That early definition has evolved into one that today includes an emphasis on systems being able to not only exchange information, but actually use the information once it has been exchanged.

Emphasizing usability of the information exchanged is an important distinction. I see it as right in line with the U.S. government’s shift away from focusing solely on how healthcare is delivered and toward what healthcare outcomes are achieved. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology obviously agrees, going so far as to state in the recently released roadmap that interoperability should occur “without special effort on the part of the user.”

Read More

Topics: Healthcare IT, EHRs, Interoperability

Using Technology-enabled Care Coordination to Boost Quality Outcomes

Posted by Kyle Salem, Ph.D. on 6/6/16 10:30 AM

June 6, 2016 - Becker's Hospital Review

"Improve quality, optimize efficiency and reduce costs" is a mantra that healthcare organizations all over the country repeat as they aim to navigate new payment models on leaner budgets. To turn these goals into reality, forward-thinking hospitals and health systems are bolstering efforts to communicate with post-acute facilities, physician practices and other care locations.

These organizations realize that without strong care coordination between settings, there is greater risk for errors and unfavorable outcomes, in addition to potential increases in length of stay (LOS) or unnecessary readmissions. In the same vein, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has introduced new reimbursement models, such as the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) model, where effective communication and care coordination between hospitals and other settings aren't just a good idea, they're required to reduce risks and promote quality outcomes.

A key opportunity for elevating cross-continuum communication is the hospital discharge and post-acute placement process. Historically, the process of transitioning patients from one care setting to another has proven fragmented and inadequate. As a means to achieve better outcomes and to mitigate financial risk, organizations are turning to technology to optimize workflows and ultimately improve care quality and satisfaction.

There are many ways that technology can be used to improve post-acute activities and nearly all bring laborious processes, clerical inefficiencies and potential gaps into which care can fall short to the forefront.

Read more.

Read More

Topics: Healthcare IT, Healthcare Technology Solutions

IMPACT Act Brings Post-Acute Care Transitions to the Forefront

Posted by Mary Kay Thalken, RN, MBA on 5/30/16 8:30 AM

Through the use of standardized quality measures and standardized data, the intent of the IMPACT Act, among other obligations, is to enable interoperability and access to longitudinal information for such providers to facilitate coordinated care, improved outcomes, and overall quality comparisons.

Quality Measure Domains:

  • Skin integrity and changes in skin integrity
  • Functional status, cognitive function, and changes in function and cognitive function
  • Medication reconciliation
  • Incidence of major falls
  • Transfer of health information and care preferences when an individual transitions
Click here for Resource Use and Other Measure Domains.

By the end of 2014, 97 percent of all U.S. hospitals had met the foundational requirement of Meaningful Use 1 by having installed certified electronic medical records (EMR) technology. This achievement marks an important first step in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS’) wide-scale effort to construct the technology infrastructure needed to bring the first real change to healthcare in decades. This foundation is absolutely essential to support the relentless drive toward a fee-for-value system.

A system that once rewarded hospitals financially for doing more procedures, is now demanding that if these procedures be done, they are done well. This greater push toward value brings the challenge of how to standardize communication among disparate providers to ensure patients receive the continuity of care required to prove and achieve quality outcomes.

As a result, healthcare organizations today are scrambling to keep up with the many new government initiatives, measurement, reporting, subsequent penalties, and standardization required to compete in the changing environment. The foundational investment made in the EMR was just the beginning. The challenge now is to make that system, and the many disparate systems that are used throughout the care continuum, to somehow speak a mutually agreeable vocabulary.

Read More

Topics: Post-acute Care, Care Coordination, Healthcare IT

Enhance Patient Satisfaction and Engagement Using Technology-enabled Care Coordination

Posted by Kyle Salem, Ph.D. on 5/25/16 8:36 AM

May 24, 2016 - Becker's Hospital Review

Hospitalized patients often experience a multitude of feelings—anxiety, fatigue and fear, not to mention possible pain. For those who require further treatment or recovery at post-acute facilities, a poor transition can heighten these feelings, adding stress to an already difficult situation.

Historically, post-acute patient placement has been a manual, somewhat impersonal process. Although case managers or discharge planners usually give the patient a list of possible post-acute facilities to consider, they commonly leave research and decision-making entirely up to the patient and his or her family. Additionally, when it comes time to transfer out of the hospital, the patient's medical record might—quite literally—travel on his or her lap to the receiving facility. Sharing medical records and discharge activities in such a disjointed, unconnected, way can lead to medication or medical errors, gaps in care and even unfavorable outcomes.

Discharges like these don't afford much opportunity for high-touch care, which most patients need during transition periods. Moreover, these types of discharges don't guarantee patients will transfer to a facility that is prepared to receive them or that can effectively meet their clinical or personal needs. If individuals are inappropriately placed, it can affect their overall satisfaction, as well as their clinical outcomes and readmission risk.

Read more.

Read More

Topics: Healthcare IT, Healthcare Technology Solutions

The Boost Your EMR Needs to Be a Care Coordination Machine: a Healthcare Executive’s View

Posted by Wayne Sensor on 5/19/16 11:01 AM

More than a decade ago when the healthcare industry began transitioning from paper charts to electronic medical records (EMRs), leaders of large hospitals and health systems, including me, expected to see at least some return on investment. Yet over the years, it has become apparent EMRs alone cannot produce the clinical and financial returns once anticipated. Today’s EMRs need a technology booster shot to take them from electronic repositories of patient data to a vehicle that supports the free exchange of protected patient health information among care providers and even with patients themselves. If they get the boost they need, I believe EMRs will be the lone platform needed to fundamentally transform fee-for-service medicine to fully coordinated patient care.

So where do we start? First, leaders should accept that their EMR system is a living, breathing infrastructure platform which will require regular updates and investments to effectively manage healthcare information in a complex, constantly changing healthcare environment. Perhaps the biggest challenge is that our idea of care coordination is changing. Today, providers and payors are thinking and talking about “episodes of care” instead of discrete procedures. The data sharing that’s necessary to ensure continuity of care requires interoperability, and unfortunately post-acute facilities rarely use the same EMR system as the referring hospital. Bottom line, not everyone can read or access the information they need to fulfill their role.

Read More

Topics: Healthcare IT, EHRs, Healthcare Technology Solutions

Solving Healthcare for the Sandwich Generation

Posted by Luis Castillo on 5/9/16 12:42 PM

If only the decisions facing the Sandwich Generation were as simple as “do you want mayo or mustard on that?”

Instead, millions between the ages of 40 and 59 are finding that their lives are wedged tightly between the hard choices associated with taking care of elderly parents and supporting both their minor and grown children. The AARP estimates, in fact, that 66 million Americans are simultaneously caring for their children and parents at the same time they are supporting themselves. It’s a labor of love that they’re paying dearly for; the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that adults in the Sandwich Generation spend, on average, $10,000 and 1,350 hours on their parents and children combined per year.

The healthcare revolution is partly behind this problem. Care, such as giving medications, ensuring therapy is completed, eating the right foods and tracking vitals like weight, blood pressure and glucose was done only in formal healthcare settings a generation ago. Today, the expectation from all corners of the care continuum is that those activities are done outside the hospital – and absolutely have to be – to control the rising cost of healthcare.

Read More

Topics: Care Coordination, Healthcare IT, Care Givers

Getting Your Hands Around Health-Care Technology

Posted by Patrick Yee on 4/25/16 9:07 AM

Congratulations, if you’ve got a smartphone, you’re going to have a hand in health-care reform.

According to the Price Waterhouse Cooper Health Research Institute, 2016 is the year that care is going to shift, literally, into consumers’ hands – into their smartphones, to be exact. PwC surveyed consumers in 2013 and 2015 and identified a 100 percent increase in the number of consumers with at least one medical, health or fitness app. While there’s no doubt mobile medical app usage is increasing, not all of them are created equal. So far, real results for many apps have been hard to come by, and the Food & Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission are starting to crack down, particularly on apps that promise consumers that they can diagnose, or even treat disease.

Where I think mobile apps can have an even bigger impact is when they get in the hands of patients and their physicians. When physicians can set up patients with “anywhere-anytime monitoring,” receive the objective data from the mobile app and use it to consistently improve patient outcomes, that’s when mobile medical apps will truly come of age. Patients will absolutely play an important part in this shift, as they take advantage of less costly, but still effective telehealth services. Even when you factor in the cost to equip hospital departments to perform telemedicine, the projected savings over the cost of traditional care are significant. Automated solutions that can track and coordinate the care patients receive at multiple points along the health-care continuum aren’t just on hospitals’ wish lists anymore – they’re becoming reality. Viable apps are out and available in the marketplace today, and more are on the way.

Read More

Topics: Healthcare IT, Healthcare Technology Solutions

Interoperability Helps—But is it Enough?

Posted by Kyle Salem, Ph.D. on 3/7/16 11:23 AM

During a keynote address during the HIMMS 2016 Conference and Exhibition, HHS
Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced a broad industry initiative to improve health data interoperability, information sharing and patient engagement. Heavy hitters that have taken the pledge include HHS, Epic and Cerner.

Read More

Topics: Healthcare IT, EHRs