4 Ways Integration is Closing the Gap Between Acute and Post-Acute Care
When all care providers for one patient are on the same page, everyone benefits
Transitioning patients to the right post-acute care facility is one of the most important steps in the patient experience. Not only do providers need to think about which level of the facility is right, providers must further consider how the transition process will affect the patient’s experience and which individual facility might be the best fit for each patient.
In a patient transition, all information needs to be moved, including knowledge, contextual information, and raw clinical data. This had made for a historically complicated workflow when attempting a smooth transition for the patient, leaving a lot of room for human error and places for information to get lost or mistranslated in the transition. The administrative burden leads to extra expense for facilities, and the potential for data to get lost. This will directly affect the outcome for the patient, leading to, at best, a poor patient experience, and at worst, a readmission and the delay in the recovery of the patient.
However, new advances in technology and new approaches in how facilities work together are giving providers the ability to make these transitions as smooth as possible, automating the transfer of information and making sure the right patient is in the right facility for them. Data proves that when you have a smooth transfer process, patients get better more quickly, and facilities incur a lower cost.
1. Reduced re-admissions
One serious negative outcome that can occur from the transition to a post-acute facility is a readmission to the hospital. Not only is the wellness of the patient affected, but the discharging facility will likely be hit with a readmission penalty. In 2017 alone, CMS withheld over $500 million in payments due to readmission penalties.
An integrated transition process reduces these readmission challenges. Research has shown the vertically integrated facilities reduce readmissions by almost 5%. But acquiring a facility alone will not make the transition process better by itself. To truly make the process better, these facilities should automate the transfer of data during transition as much as possible, regardless of whether or not the facilities are vertically integrated or not.
Integrating the flow of data ensures that all the information that is needed goes to the right place, leaving out the potential for human error or lost information. By giving the new facility a complete, reliably consistent picture of each patient, the post-acute facility will be better prepared to treat the patient, improving outcomes and reducing the rate of readmissions.
2. Better patient experience
Patient experience is something in healthcare that is talked about in nearly every circle. However, the transition from acute to post-acute is still so often the point where the patient experience breaks down. Patients can feel like they don’t have the information they need, and, because they might not know the individual characteristics of their post-acute care facility options, patients often don’t choose the facility that best fits their needs.
Integrating the transition process improves this experience in several ways. First, the acute facilities are getting live data back from post-acute facilities that can help them make the best decisions for their patients. Readmission rates by facility, the average length of stay, and even patient reviews are all items that providers at acute facilities can have on hand to help them make the best decision possible. In addition, advanced data analytics can slice this information down even more specifically, only showing outcomes for patients that are most similar to the current patient being discharged. For example, a post-acute facility may have an excellent readmission rate overall, but further analysis shows sub-par performance for a particular demographic set of knee-replacement patients. With this information, the discharging facility can make the best decision possible for each patient.
In addition, the post-acute facility has all of the information needed to continue care for the patient upon arrival, leaving out any frustration from patients that may occur from having to re-explain things time and time again to the new facility.
3. Pre-admission workflow automation
Post-acute facilities can receive not just clinical information automatically, but also demographics and insurance info for the patients they are receiving. Insurance information, in particular, can be extremely helpful and potentially save the post-acute facility thousands of dollars in lost revenue that comes from chasing this information down or having impartial information leading to uncovered procedures.
This is another area that suffers from inefficiencies, often requiring providers to enter this information multiple times in different systems.
4. Reducing dual and manual entry
Manually entering information multiple times into multiple systems is not only an admin burden for facilities, but every manual entry creates an opportunity for information to be entered incorrectly. Integrating the flow of information between the acute and post-acute facilities removes this manual effort, eliminating errors and reducing the admin burden.
With this burden removed, facilities can trust that they get all the information needed, automatically, and allows the administrative staff to focus on activities providing value to the patient, not just manually entering information into databases.
Traditionally, building these integrations were tough processes, requiring the commitment of serious resources. But with better technology and more approachable pricing models in the market, integration doesn’t have to scary or complicated.
The benefits offered to patients and providers are too great for integrations to remain a luxury to only the largest organizations. Want to take a deeper dive into modern EHR integrations? Check out our webinar to see a deeper dive into how organizations of all sizes are integrating their workflows.