HIMSS News

How technology drives care coordination and improves transitions of care

Dave WessingerAs discussed in my last post, “How Data and Communication Technology Can Enhance Provider Care Delivery,” it is critical for providers to invest in the right technology to support seamless transitions of care. But what does the ideal technology for care transitions look like and how will it enhance coordination across the care continuum?

While a number of technology vendors have developed tools for smoother patient transfers, they are all different and distinct systems that do not have the ability to easily integrate or share information between them – making the challenge of interoperability a significant one. This is top of mind for many, including the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), which recently released an interoperability roadmap proposal. Included in the ONC recommendations was a timeline of data interoperability goals spanning across the next three to ten years, with a detailed look at what “interoperability” means, especially in exchanges between long-term post-acute care environments and acute care.

Interoperability in this context refers to a common set of standards, services, policies and practices allowing electronic health information exchange in a time-efficient manner among multiple technology platforms and software applications. Interoperability is not only about making the right data connections happen, it is also about connecting the key players in a health network to enable a person-centric approach to care delivery. It’s about exchanging data that can be turned into intelligence. This way, providers and their partners have the right information at the right time to make the best care decisions. 

In order to have health information systems work together across industries and geographies, we must start with a secure and reliable connection hub that can ensure that providers are receiving the right data at the right time in a way that care providers can use it to benefit the patient. The majority of these data connections are currently being supported by one method of data sharing—such as through a Health Information Service Provider (HISP) Direct Message. However, there are other methods of data sharing that can also be leveraged.

Actions like discrete data messaging, secure text messaging and even digital faxing are all industry recognized methods that should be implemented in every healthcare organization to optimize care transitions and improve care quality. While one physician may prefer receiving digital faxes to their office on a patient’s current health status, another may favor having a secure text message delivered directly to their mobile device. If these are the different methods that each of your providers may prefer, it should be made a priority that any method of data sharing is fully capable through your technology infrastructure.

Impactful and successful care delivery is dependent on taking the right patient data and sharing it in a consistent and efficient manner to provider partners, whether or not they are in your network. Having the right infrastructure in place not only expedites this communication, but in many cases it dramatically reduces the errors and delays that are prevalent in paper-based transactions. The ideal technology for care transitions would enable providers to become better integrated, better connected and more streamlined with their partners in care, whether they are hospitals, long-term care communities, ACOs, physician or pharmacies. Through this effort and an enhanced technology infrastructure, we will be able to drive better outcomes for both people and healthcare businesses alike.

Dave has worked in the Senior Care Information Technology industry for 20 years and is actively involved in many industry associations and advocacy efforts, including CPAC, NASL, AHCA IT, CAST and ONC. Prior to co-founding PointClickCare, Dave was a Manager of IT for a multi-site provider and focused on software implementation and adoption.