2012 is the year of technology for LTPAC

I am writing this blog while waiting to catch a plane after attending 2 weeks of meetings. Here’s the short list: federal advisory Health IT Standards Committee; the NASL Winter Conference; and a CCHIT trustee conference call.

At the NASL HIT Committee meeting, I was talking with Jennie Harvell, senior policy analyst with the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, about all the progress that has been made in having long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC) providers and HIT vendors recognized as an important partner in clinical technology. She commented—and I agreed—that everything is coming together for us, and we used the analogy that both the LTPAC clinical stars and the HIT stars are now in alignment.

The meetings I attended pointed out that this is really happening after a long fight. It’s a great step forward for LTPAC, but the ball is now in our court.

At the meeting of the Health IT Standards Committee, there was an outline of the objectives for the four quarters of 2012. In the second quarter, one of the objectives is to work on “Certification/adoption: Long-term and post-acute care.”

This gives all of us on the committee direction to start including LTPAC in the standards discussion and meaningful use electronic quality measures for the upcoming stages. I am sorry that meaningful use does not include LTPAC in the incentives, but we knew this was not possible with being left out of the legislation and with the nation’s deficit issues. However, including SNFs closes the transition of care between the eligible hospital and professional. As we move into quality issues we will need your help in setting standards and quality measurement criteria.

Going back to the NASL Winter Conference of the HIT Committee, I must mention who was in attendance. Along with Harvell there were three members of the Office of the National HIT Coordinator (ONC) and they gave vendors an update on federal initiatives related to HIT and LTPAC.

Also for the first time, the HIT and Therapy Committees met in a joint session. This again proves the harmonizing of the clinical and technical. Harvell and Liz Palena Hall of the ONC gave presentations to the joint meeting. Hall has helped advance LTPAC objectives highlighted in the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2011-2015.

As I stated, it is time that LTPAC providers and vendors step up and become involved in the transition of care processes. With the upcoming emphasis on reducing instances of 30-day re-hospitalizations of patients, SNFs will have to become involved in the electronic transitions of care. Hospitals will be asking nursing homes to document the care of their discharged patients. If we are not involved in the policies and standards to ensure they fit the needs of LTPAC, then there is a good chance we will be told what to do. The time is now, the stars are aligned and we are being asked to be involved.

How can you become involved?

S&I Framework/ONC-Sponsored Workgroup on Longitudinal Coordination of Care: It is essential to join this workgroup and be an active participant. The ONC is looking at the attendees as an indication of interest in our involvement in the transition of care processes. You can join by going to this website.

National Association for the Support of Long Term Care: Its HIT Committee, among other committees, provides you legislative and regulatory support. See its website.

The 2012 LTPAC HIT Summit: The LTPAC HIT Collaborative will be holding its 8th annual summit on June 18 in Baltimore. The collaborative is also finalizing its new LTPAC HIT Roadmap (this is the third update) and the members of the collaborative are asking for your comments. Visit the website.

Closing thoughts

I also have a request. At the NASL meeting, I asked one of the CMS deputy directors if he knew how many SNF Medical Directors had signed up as eligible professionals of the HITECH Act and were receiving incentives, and also whether Medical Directors that just had SNF practices were eligible. (At the outset they were not eligible, but CMS was going to correct this omission.)

The CMS deputy director did not have an answer. I have been asking this question for two years with no straight answer. If anyone reading this blog is an eligible professional or knows of any LTPAC physicians that were eligible professionals and had signed up for incentives, please comment below.

My final note this month is to get involved. Those of us representing you need people on the S&I Framework Workgroup and quantifiable examples of LTPAC electronic transitions of care, as well as examples of EMRs and EHRs improving the quality of care you deliver.

Topics: Technology & IT