Low-Cost Health IT Connectivity for Skilled Nursing Facilities Enables Clinicians to Provide Better, More Coordinated Patient Care

No EHR required; Geisinger-led Keystone Beacon Community and Caradigm partner on health IT innovation

DANVILLE, Pa., and BELLEVUE, Wash., Aug. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Skilled nursing facilities — with or without an electronic health record — are now able to contribute patient information to a regional health information exchange (HIE), enabling clinicians at other healthcare facilities participating in the HIE to access the information when and where it is needed to provide better care for patients. This new data-sharing capability is possible through an innovative approach developed by the health information technology team within the Keystone Beacon Community, a Geisinger-led federally funded initiative aimed at building and strengthening local health IT infrastructure and making measureable improvements leading to better care and better health at a lower cost.

Leveraging the existing federal mandate for skilled nursing facilities to submit electronic patient assessments known as minimum data sets (MDSs) to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare, Caradigm created an "MDS-to-CCD Transformer" that automatically extracts patient-care information from the records of patients who have provided consent for their data to be shared, transforms it into a standard Continuity of Care Document (CCD) format using the approach developed by the Keystone Beacon Community, and sends it to a designated HIE. Here, the patient information — including diagnoses and patient functional status — can be accessed by any licensed clinician who has agreed to keep the information private and secure. This information helps doctors, nurses and other members of the patient's care team to provide better, more coordinated care.

According to Jim Walker, MD, Geisinger Health System's Chief Health Information Officer, the MDS-to-CCD Transformer will facilitate health exchange connectivity for skilled nursing facilities across the country. "Any skilled nursing facility can now share a patient's information inexpensively and securely, which helps the patient's care team work better together," notes Dr. Walker.

"We are proud to have the Emmanuel Center for Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation involved in establishing this initiative with the Keystone Beacon Community," said Tom Conlin, chief operating officer of Maria Joseph Continuing Care Community. "The ability to more easily exchange information about our residents' medical treatment will enable us to offer more complete assessments of their needs when they are first admitted and after they receive care at another facility. This process will also expedite the admission from other healthcare facilities to us. Better communication among healthcare providers can avoid unnecessary costs and procedures and will help skilled nursing facilities to provide the most personalized care possible."

Established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2009, the Beacon Community Cooperative Agreement Program is designed to accelerate and demonstrate the ability of health IT to transform local healthcare systems to advance a patient-centered vision of care, improve care quality and reduce cost. One of the 17 communities selected by HHS to receive funding, Keystone Beacon Community is a network of healthcare providers in Central Pennsylvania — doctors, hospitals, long-term care communities and others — who have joined together to help coordinate and manage their patients' care, reduce hospital admissions, and improve their patients' quality of life.

"Putting patients at the center of care means establishing strong connections among a community's healthcare providers, especially post-acute care organizations," said Michael Simpson, CEO of Caradigm. "We're excited to work with Geisinger and the Keystone Beacon Community to enable the sharing of patient information between skilled nursing facilities and regional HIEs. This is an important milestone in improving the quality of care for patients as they make transitions across the health system."

About Geisinger Health System

Geisinger is an integrated health services organization widely recognized for its innovative use of the electronic health record, and the development and implementation of innovative care models including advanced medical home and ProvenCare ("warranty") program. The system serves more than 2.6 million residents throughout 42 counties in central and northeastern Pennsylvania. For more information, visit www.geisinger.org.

About Caradigm

Formed by GE Healthcare and Microsoft Corp. in June 2012, Caradigm is a 50–50 joint venture focused on enabling health systems and payers to drive continuous improvements in care. Caradigm software is designed to make it easier for healthcare professionals across care settings to use data to gain critical insights, collaborate with each other and with patients, and to develop and implement innovative care solutions. Amalga, eHealth Information Exchange and Vergence — and applications built by partners to extend these products — give clinicians, administrators and finance teams timely access to key information, helping them to take steps to solve some of healthcare's biggest problems, including chronic disease management, preventable hospital readmissions and hospital acquired conditions, and to advance integrated, accountable care. Caradigm is headquartered in Bellevue, Wash. For more information about the company, visit http://www.caradigm.com

SOURCE Caradigm