Is interoperability the elephant in the room?

I was recently asked, “How do you eat an elephant?”…….. “One bite at a time.”

interoperability, home health, hospice, connected care

So here we go….

As you know, CMS is steadily shifting its reimbursement model from quantity-based to quality-based. Corresponding initiatives like accountable care organizations (ACOs) are gaining solid ground. The key to better transitions is better data sharing between providers, best accomplished when providers use systems that are “interoperable”… systems that, by design, use a standards-based approach to information exchange. Better handling of patient transitions from one level of care to another and from one provider to another is critical to your organizations bottom line and the future success of your agency.

Interoperability is one of the major keys to be able to compete in the homecare market space, and grow your business today. So let’s think about this. What’s in it for my agency to be interoperable?

Ok, let’s just look at one piece of the puzzle, referrals for example. How are you receiving referrals now? How long does it take for intake to manually input vast amount of data from your
referral source? How accurate is the referral data being keyed into your current EMR? Missing information? Do your clinicians have all the needed information for that patient’s first visit? Do your clinicians have to carry paper around to make sure they have all the information about
that referred patient?

I’m sure you’ve thought about having your referrals electronically populated from your referral source into your EMR. Many agencies I speak with are still manually entering this data. They state that it takes 35-45 minutes per referral to get the data into the EMR. How many referrals do you have a month? You can do the math and see the huge savings just in the patient intake area alone.

In order to receive your referrals electronically, your referral sources might ask, “Does your EMR provide an electronic Continuity of Care Document (CCD)?” Even more important, “Does your EMR support direct messaging protocol or have the ability to convert CCD content to coded data?” Is your EMR software certified?

Many of your referral sources in the acute and physician practice world have this ability to interoperate. Who do you think they will be more apt to send referrals to? Those that have an EMR that can easily “interoperate” and share this data electronically, with a standards based approach, or those that have an EMR that doesn’t have the ability to meet these healthcare industry standards?

We’ll talk more, have another bite of the elephant, and discuss an additional step for your agency to interoperate with the healthcare world around you.

Written by Jay Tolman
Jay is Client Relationship Manager at Thornberry.

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