HIE Implementation Connects Long-Term and Post-Acute Care Facilities

Jim Younkin | November 13, 2012

The health information team at the Keystone Beacon Community Exit Disclaimer has developed a new health information exchange (HIE) implementation tool that will allow any skilled nursing facility to share a patient’s information inexpensively and securely—with or without an electronic health record. Thanks to this innovative approach, previously inaccessible information collected by critical long-term and post- acute care facilities can be added to a patient’s health record, enabling the patient’s care team to work better together. That’s good medicine for all of us.

The Key to Success:  Use What’s Already Available

The key is using data collected under an existing mandate for skilled nursing facilities to submit electronic patient assessment information, known as the minimum data set (MDS), to the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services.  The “MDS-to-CCD Transformer” automatically extracts this information from the records of patients who have provided consent for their data to be shared. The information is then “transformed,” into a standard Continuity of Care Document (CCD) “like” format that can be consumed by a health information exchange  in the same way as records sent by hospitals and primary care providers.  This approach has been vetted through the ONC’s Standards & Interoperability Workgroup to ensure that it can be used by other communities across the country that support broadly adopted standards for information exchange.

For now, the new HIE implementation tool, informally known as the “Gobbler,” is enabling data sharing between skilled nursing facilities in central Pennsylvania and our regional HIE, known as the Keystone Health Information Exchange (KeyHIE®). KeyHIE provides patient information—including diagnoses and patient functional status—that can be accessed by any licensed clinician who has agreed to keep the information private and secure. Sharing data with long- term care facilities helps ensure patients across the Keystone Beacon Community receive better, more secure, and more accurate care by informed clinicians. Tom Conlin, Chief Operating Officer of Maria Joseph Continuing Care Community Exit Disclaimer, an early adopter of the Gobbler tool in Danville, Pennsylvania, explains: “The ability to more easily exchange information about our residents’ medical treatment enables us to offer more complete assessments of their condition when they are first admitted, and after they receive care at another facility. This process also expedites the admission from other health care facilities to us.”

Other Beacon Communities and HIE Implementation

Beacon Communities in Rhode Island, Western New York and Bangor, ME,  are also focused on connecting health information exchanges with long-term and post-acute care facilities. For example, the Rhode Island Beacon Community Exit Disclaimer has engaged Rhode Island’s nursing homes in becoming enrollment partners and users of CurrentCare, a secure electronic network that gives doctors and other health care providers access to the most up-to-date health information right away so they can treat patients with the best possible care. Training on best practices for patient enrollment and use of CurrentCare is one element of a plan targeting up to 84 nursing homes across the state.

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