Another banner month for health IT in LTPAC

Since my last blog there have been a number of meetings and reports that are very important to long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC) providers and IT vendors. Here’s a review of these events and some information on how you can get involved.

The National Quality Forum (NQF) Measure Applications Partnership final pre-rulemaking report titled, “Input on Measures Under Consideration by HHS for 2012 Rulemaking” was published on February 1, backing up the previous final report specific to LTPAC. There is information you should read in both of these reports to get an understanding of the strategic direction of quality measurements in LTPAC. NQF has an objective to harmonize quality measurements across care settings.

Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) met last month and the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) played a major role in one of the largest HIMSS meetings. More than 35,000 people in health IT attended. ONC gave a town hall meeting on the overall HITECH program and the Beacon Communities. There was also an ONC Interoperability Showcase with 22 demonstrations, including many on Health Information Exchanges and the inclusion of LTPAC providers.

The meeting on Beacon Communities was most interesting to LTPAC. There are 17 Beacon Communities with an objective of interconnecting all providers in their community. You should be aware of this program, and if your facility is located within a Beacon Community, you should get in touch with the person responsible.

The Electronic Health Record Incentive Program—Stage 2 proposed rule was published. Within this 455 page document, LTPAC is mentioned numerous times. There is a hint of the future inclusion of LTPAC in quality measures on page 177:

“We recognize that we do not have additional measures to propose beginning with CY 2014 in the areas of long-term and post-acute care. Since the publication of the Stage 1 final rule, we have partnered with the National Governor's Association to participate in a panel with long-term care and health information exchange experts to gain insight and consensus on possible clinical quality measures. At this time, however, no clinical quality measures for long-term and post-acute care have been identified as being ready (electronically specified) beginning with CY 2014. We expect to continue to develop or identify clinical quality measures for these areas with our partners and stakeholders for future years.”

Again, I must mention that there is very little chance of LTPAC providers being included in the HITECH Act incentive program. Some providers have felt that with the increased involvement of LTPAC, there would eventually be incentive funds like those given to eligible hospitals and professionals. The economic environment leading to Congress approving additional funds for HITECH Act are remote. With this said, ONC is trying hard to establish grants and other ways to assist LTPAC. Our profession should work hard to be included as it is best for our patients.

The proposed rule, “Standards, Implementation Specifications, and Certification Criteria for Electronic Health Record Technology[…].” On pages 132-133, there is a request from ONC to look at certification criteria for LTPAC. You should read this entire document as there is a great deal of information on EHR technology requirements and the role of EHRs.

LTPAC HIT Collaborative will be commenting on both of the above-mentioned proposed rules. If you have comments, submit them through the channels listed within the proposed rule or comment on this blog and I will submit them to the LTPAC HIT Collaborative, which will be consolidating comments for its members to include the majority of stakeholder associations in LTPAC. There will also be sessions on these topics at the 8th Annual LTPAC HIT Summit to be held in Baltimore on June 18-19.

Topics: Technology & IT