Post-Acute Facilities Behind On IT Use

Posted on February 17, 2014 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

A new report from research firm Black Book concludes that smart technology use will be essential to the health of post-acute facilities, which are struggling with Medicare reimbursement changes, more Medicaid patients and newly covered patients from insurance exchanges.

At present, post-acute facilities are still “stuck in a volume-based care mindset,” said Doug Brown, president of Black Book’s parent company, Brown-Wilson Group, in an announcement. “It is going to take a willingness to adapt and commit to using technology to confront the challenges ahead.”

Black Book surveyed 464 providers of long-term and post-acute care, including nursing homes, hospitals, short-term rehabilitation facilities, skilled nursing facilities and hospices in an effort to determine what strategic responses these facilities should make in response to a challenging reimbursement environment and higher demand for post-acute services.

The study, which focused on post-acute IT use, attempts to determine whether there are more efficient ways to improve such care using IT tools. The survey reported on health information exchanges (public and private), quality reporting, health analytics, workflow and care coordination, and patient engagement software/systems.

As things stand, 63% of all post-acute providers report extremely poor or non-existent use of information systems, technology and patient data exchanges, including 79% of all nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities. This is the case despite the fact that 92% of post-acute providers agree that IT platforms for patient data sharing a comprehensive care coordination would improve their organizations’ financial health, as well as improving their ability to function under accountable care systems and lower fee-for-service reimbursement.

To better manage the transition between inpatient care and post-acute environments, it will be necessary to connect physician practices, home health agencies, hospices, outpatient settings, skilled nursing facilities, rehabilitation centers, DME firms, and hospitals, said Brown.