2013: The year of HIT cooperation across the care spectrum?

Long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC) providers and vendors made great strides in healthcare information technology (HIT) during 2012.  The U.S. healthcare system has begun its move from an episodic care focus to a dynamic, person-centric, electronic and longitudinal care focus. More workgroups are being formed to promote patient engagement.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology  (ONC) sponsored a May, 2012 LTPAC roundtable to seek recommendations on how to get providers and vendors more involved in Meaningful Use (MU). The contributions were added to MU Stage 3, including several sections pertaining to transitions of care.

The interest in LTPAC picked up once MU Stage 2 was launched and hospitals saw that skilled nursing facilities and home care agencies would play an important role in their ability to satisfy their Stage 2 goals. I’m sure the regulations on 30-day re-hospitalizations (effective October 1, 2012)didn’t hurt the higher awareness of the roles of these important providers, either.

SNF and Home Care Agency Vendors: The majority of the IT vendors are working on upgrading their applications, and several vendors of systems designed for skilled nursing and home care have received HIT certification.  A number of vendors received more research funding to move into the world of longitudinal care records with alerts and trending. Vendors also are investing in transitions of care so their customers can participate in accountable care organizations, medical homes and health information exchanges (HIEs).

eQuality Measurements: A number of organizations have begun to look at eQuality Measures across the spectrum of care. This will be very important to both LTPAC providers and vendors, since these measurements will be person-centric and longitudinal across care settings.  The National Quality Forum formed a Partners (MAP) group, which is looking to harmonize quality measurements, and one of MAP’s divisions has an LTPAC focus.  ONC is encouraging eQuality Measures and CMS has formed a group on eQuality Measures.

2013 has started off with a general feeling that LTPAC clinical HIT is a member of care coordination team. I am sorry to report that we are still not included directly in the HITECH Act federal incentives (and probably never will be) because of the national debt and budget concerns. Fortunately, states have programs where grant money is available for joining HIEs.

Health information exchanges: On January 29, Health and Human Services’ Federal Standards and Policy HIT Committees held a joint hearing with HIE thought leaders to provide testimony on HIE implementation. I was very gratified when SNFs and home care agencies were mentioned in most of the testimonies. The discussions were very positive, and the hospitals and HIE management want to assist in our interconnectivity.

If you want to join an HIE or Beacon Community, set up a meeting with their management and discuss how you can join. Next month I will talk more on how you can participate in the new care models.

From the Long-Term Living editors: What type of technology is your organization most interested in for 2013? What technology issues and challenges do you want to know more about? Let us know in the comment space below.

Topics: Technology & IT