ONC: Post-acute providers should embrace EHRs, HIEs

Long term and post acute care (LTPAC) providers have "numerous" opportunities to engage in health information exchange, and need to adopt interoperable electronic health record systems, according to a new issue brief published by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.

The brief, released March 15, acknowledges that EHR adoption and HIE use by LTPAC providers is lagging in acute care settings. However, it's increasingly important for this segment of the healthcare industry to adopt health IT to improve care coordination, remote monitoring to support care at home, care planning, and quality reporting.

The brief outlined a number of federal and state initiatives focused on supporting EHR and HIE use by LTPAC providers. It also pointed out that Stages 2 and 3 of the Meaningful Use Incentive Program contemplate increased adoption of EHRs by LTPAC providers so that records can be shared, even though such providers don't qualify for incentive payments.

ONC did note that "challenges related to training and low levels of health IT adoption and interoperability must be addressed before successful, effective, and fully informed, IT-enabled care delivery across LTPAC settings is possible."

The brief suggested that LTPAC providers take steps to explore opportunities to use EHRs and HIEs, such as obtaining access to HIE via large hospital systems, identifying partnership opportunities with accountable care organizations or care transition organizations, taking advantage of EHR donations, and exploring new payment arrangements with private payers and Medicaid programs.

ONC has expressed concern in the past about the need of LTPAC providers to embrace EHRs. What's more, studies have shown that post-acute EHR use can improve outcomes and patient care.

To learn more:
- read the issue brief (.pdf)