Integration Challenges in the Post-Acute Care Environment

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Wednesday, 19 November 2014 08:11

Getting with IT

Technology Challenges in the Long-term and Post-Acute Care Industries:
While larger health organizations and physician practices continue to integrate healthcare information technology into their operations, the long-term post-acute care (LTPAC) industry has been slow to adopt for many reasons. With the increased need for LTPAC services due to the aging population and prevalence of acute conditions such as diabetes, cancer and other chronic illnesses, these providers must begin actively engaging in the health information exchange to continue to deliver seamless, quality patient care.

Addressing the Need:
Due to the complexity of their condition, patients with an acute condition or chronic illness often travel back and forth between a LTPAC facility and an institution. Without electronic data to guide decision-making at the point-of-care, both the institution and the LTPAC provider don’t have the accurate information they need to treat and diagnose these often life-threatening illnesses. LTPAC facilities today currently face:

Why the Slow Adoption Rate?
Despite the opportunities to change, and the potential improvements and efficiencies, LTPAC providers have been slow to integrate electronic health systems. Some of the reasons behind this include:

A System for Success:
While LTPAC providers are far from full-scale integration of health IT and interoperability, they can begin to incorporate it in stages, whether implementing a custom solution from scratch or integrating a new solution into an existing application. Working with an IT solution provider, LTPAC facilities can begin with an overall assessment, workflow analysis and documentation of current systems. This will help them to discover a solution that best fits the workflow needs of their facility, in order to enhance and improve existing systems.

Help is on the Way:
With reform on the way and larger organizations leading the efforts, technology integration within the LTPAC setting can help improve transitions and improve care management. With a complete, electronic account of the patient’s history, LTPAC providers will be able to understand the full picture of their patient’s health and coordinate care appropriately. While we may be years away from this achievement, with increased training and funding, LTPAC providers will show greater health IT adoption and eventual interoperability with the rest of the healthcare industry.