Electronic Health Records: Post-Acute Care Providers Need More Support

Legislation | August 28, 2017 | by Scott Code

LeadingAge advised Rep. Pat Tiberi, chair of the U.S. House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, that long-term and post-acute care providers need the kind of support hospitals and physicians have received to make more effective use of interoperable electronic health records.

Long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC) providers are important partners for acute care providers and play a key role in preventing re-hospitalizations of Medicare beneficiaries. However, the success of these partnerships will depend on LTPAC providers a) having interoperable electronic health records (EHRs); and b) their ability to use EHRs to exchange relevant health information electronically with other care partners, either directly or through a health information exchange.

LTPAC providers with these capabilities will be able to participate more fully in facilitating smooth transitions of care and in planning and implementing shared care. Small stand-alone, and especially rural LTPAC providers have much lower electronic health record adoption rates than larger chain-affiliated and urban counterparts. Adoption rates in the post-acute care sector generally are far lower than among hospitals, physicians and professionals who are eligible to receive electronic health record adoption incentives from CMS, as authorized under the HITECH provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Moreover, even LTPAC providers that have interoperable EHRs are not effectively able to participate in engaging in electronic health information exchange activities with accountable care organizations, hospitals and other eligible professionals.

Related Statute/Regulation:

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and its HITECH Act, P.L. 111-5

Proposed Solution:

LeadingAge urges Congress to authorize additional funding to enable more widespread adoption of electronic health records among LTPAC providers, particularly those not-affiliated with a corporate chain and especially those in rural areas, which do not have the resources to invest in this foundational technology. New sources of financial assistance—including financial incentives, grants, and low-interest loans—would go a long way toward helping LTPAC providers make the initial investment in interoperable electronic health records systems.

In addition, LeadingAge urges Congress to include LTPAC settings in national health information technology initiatives, including the development, adoption and use of interoperability standards, the certification of information technology products, and the engagement of LTPAC providers in electronic health record incentive programs and health information exchange activities. LTPAC providers also should be able to participate in technical assistance programs administered by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

Finally, additional ongoing incentive payments for LTPAC providers tied to quality measures relevant to LTPAC settings would ensure the full participation of providers who have interoperable electronic health records, or have the resources to invest in such systems, in health information exchange activities with other care partners including hospitals, behavioral health providers, and other health care professionals. Such investments can reduce unnecessary hospitalizations and hospital readmissions, and can improve the quality of shared care as well as transitions of care.