Although LTC and post-acute care providers have been excluded from Meaningful Use, they still play a key role in continuity of care, says federal health IT official.
8 Health Information Exchanges Lead The Way
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Non-physician providers of long-term and post-acute care may not qualify for the Meaningful Use electronic health records (EHRs) incentive program, but they likely will need to exchange EHR data electronically and report on clinical measures in order to participate in pay-for-performance and other quality-centric models in the future, according to a top federal health IT official.
"Interoperability and health information exchange are major priorities for ONC moving forward," Murphy, a registered nurse, added. "The goal is to assure that information follows patients whenever and wherever they seek care. It is essential for [long-term and post-acute care] providers to invest in technology to support these goals."
Murphy noted that the proposed rules for Stage 2 of Meaningful Use, set to take effect in 2014, contain several provisions relevant to these areas of care. The proposal calls for hospitals and "eligible professionals"--including physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, and chiropractors--to be able to generate longitudinal care plans, documents for transition of care, and care patient assessment summaries.
Murphy also said that ONC is engaging long-term and post-acute care providers through the Standards and Interoperability (S&I) Framework and via federal grants given to state HIE programs in Massachusetts, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Colorado to promote interoperability in these care domains.
While it would take an act of Congress to expand Meaningful Use to long-term and post-acute care providers--the original scope is codified in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act--such providers are finding issues with health IT, as are hospitals and physician practices, according to Deborah Green, VP of health information management solutions at the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). AHIMA is one of the eight industry organizations that make up the LTPAC Health Information Technology Collaborative, which convened last week's summit.
"A lot of providers across the continuum of care do have challenges in funding of electronic health records," Green told InformationWeek Healthcare. They may not have access to the estimated $27 billion in Meaningful Use incentive money, but they can demand interoperability features from EHR vendors to make the investment more worthwhile, Green said.
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