Skilled Nursing Facilities Outpace Hospitals in Data Sharing, Technology

Though data sharing between acute and post-acute care facilities remains a frustration for operators and patients alike, the PAC space may actually be running ahead of their hospital counterparts when it comes to using in technology.

That’s according to a new white paper from Toronto-based software provider PointClickCare (PCC) on patient transitions, which examined data sharing, interoperability, and challenges in care delivery and coordination between acute and post-acute facilities.

The survey was conducted in partnership with the research firm Definitive Healthcare.

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Of acute care providers who participated in the report, 36% used “manual-only” strategies for the coordination of patient transitions to the long-term post-acute sector. On the other hand, just 7% of long-term post-acute providers relied solely on manual means for coordination of patient transitions.

The handoff of a patient between the acute care setting and the post-acute setting has long been a focus for skilled nursing facilities and hospitals, which can struggle to reach handoff goals even when technology tools are in place to help them, one study in The American Journal of Managed Care found.

The results of the PCC survey throw some light onto the major issues. Almost 50% of surveyed acute care providers depend on e-mail and fax to share data, compared with 31% of post-acute providers. Those methods, as well as the heavy reliance on phone calls, can lead to mistakes, omitted information, and mismatched details, the report said.

Another challenge for post-acute providers is that acute care shares limited data; just 16% of acute-care providers reported sharing all patient data with their post-acute partners. Meanwhile, information such as measurements and observations, advanced care planning notes, and location and patient status information can all be missing, according to the white paper.

With the new Medicare overhaul coming in just a few short months, communication with hospitals will become paramount, especially when it comes to patient documentation upon admission.

In fact, the flow of information from hospitals to SNFs was cited as a major area of uncertainty under the Patient-Driven Payment Model in a recent round-up of industry opinions on the change. One of the key steps will be ensuring that all clinical information “past and current,” is secured quickly, Allan Swerdloff, vice president of value-based care and procurement at AristaCare Health Services, said.

“What remains to be seen is how receptive our hospital partners will be to these changes, especially in regards to flow of information from one setting to the next,” he told SNN.

Faxed documents from hospitals must be deciphered and confirmed by phone, one long-term and post-acute CEO indicated in the PCC report. Yet another noted that the way the information is transferred can make it less reliable; that CEO’s business receives “a lot of summaries,” but rarely the patient’s medical record.

And without the right information exchange, patient care can be delayed and costs can go up: Challenges in information exchanges can lead to extended hospital stays and readmissions. But when the exchange is smooth, the relationship between acute care and SNFs can be improved, PCC concluded.

“When you get a 70-page fax and only four or five pages of it are relevant to anything, it’s a waste of time on both sides of the equation,” one post-acute CEO said.

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