Connecting Long-Term Care Facilities
For most patients who leave the hospital, the last thing they want is to return anytime soon. However, that is often what happens, especially for aging seniors who have been discharged to skilled nursing facilities. While some readmissions are planned and part of a natural progression of care, many hospital readmissions are now being thought of as “avoidable”—an unfortunate byproduct of uncoordinated care.
Central Illinois Health Information Exchange (CIHIE) points to transitions of care as the ideal opportunity for patients and clinicians to experience the benefit of having a patient’s complete healthcare record available electronically at their fingertips. Healthcare providers across a 20-county region of central Illinois have worked collaboratively since mid-2009 to plan and implement the healthcare exchange.
What is Health Information Exchange (HIE)?
Currently, much of the data that exists about a person’s health is scattered across multiple locations, depending on which healthcare providers he or she has seen and under what conditions. Information sharing—even when the patient really wants healthcare providers to be on the same page—is difficult, if not impossible.
The result of this scattered “silo” approach is that transferring information from one care provider to another falls largely on the shoulders of the patients themselves. Health histories, allergies, medication lists and more are constructed from what a patient happens to remember during any particular office visit.
HIE is essentially a secure technology that allows a healthcare provider to access a patient’s current healthcare records from multiple sources in one place. For long-term care facilities, this means they can more immediately review a patient’s hospital discharge records, along with recent records from a primary care physician or specialists in order to establish the best plan of care.
Accelerating Connectivity for Long-Term Care Providers
Recently, CIHIE received a $349,000 “White Space Grant” from the Illinois Office of Health Information Technology to accelerate connectivity of long-term care providers to exchange technology. Federal health officials refer to “White Space” healthcare providers as those who are practicing in areas that are currently underserved by health information technology infrastructure.
Funding for the grant is made possible through the $18.8 million in federal funding awarded to Illinois in 2010 under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act as part of the HIE Cooperative Agreement Program. Illinois is using the funding to implement the Illinois Health Information Exchange (ILHIE), a network for the secure sharing of clinical and administrative data among healthcare providers across the state. During 2013, the grant funds will allow CIHIE to offer:
- Education, technical assistance and support for long-term care organizations as they ready their staff and systems for participation in the exchange;
- Secure messaging services to replace faxing and mailing paper records between healthcare providers; and
- Instant, real-time access to CIHIE’s aggregate community health record, which provides clinicians with a single place to access patient records from multiple sources.
Six regional organizations have partnered with CIHIE to anchor the work, serving as early long-term care adopters for the technology. They include BMA Management Ltd., Christian Homes Inc., HCR ManorCare, Heritage Enterprises, NuCare/Symphony Healthcare and Kindred Hospital.
CIHIE is the first regional health information exchange to be operational in the State of Illinois. Patient data first became available through the exchange in June 2012. For more information, visit cihie.org. iBi