We were honored to be published in several media outlets recently highlighting some simple, immediate ways that post-acute care providers can start to harness the potential of electronic data sharing. Interoperability certainly continues to be in hot pursuit in hospitals and large health systems, but as long-term care providers, skilled nursing, and others in the post-acute sector brace for the drastic change ahead as our beloved Baby Boomers hit 65, we’ve got to open our eyes to how we can impact these care settings now.

As the article stated, “This impending historical milestone could very well be just as important as the devastation around COVID-19 and cannot be overlooked. With age often comes medical complications and comorbidities, taxing in time, dollars, and emotions.” And let’s not forget, staffing issues in this sector are mounting, so an administrative exodus is a very big deal.

But rather than instilling fear and dread, we want to encourage folks to think about what may be well at hand with just a few simple steps in the right direction…

The Path to Electronic Healthcare Data Sharing in 5 Steps

  1. Ask ‘What Do We Already Have?’ – Providers in post-acute settings may be surprised to learn that they already have access to tools (such as inboxes or connectivity) that they’re not aware of due to lack of configuration or training. If nothing else, find out from existing IT vendors if you already have Direct Secure Messaging.
  2. Set Up a Direct Address – This standard is a simple way of establishing a universal inbox for gathering patient data independent of a fax machine, and this method of receipt often comes with far more flexibility for efficient exchange throughout the care experience.
  3. Nominate Someone to Become the Resident Direct Expert – We understand that staffing for post-acute specialties can be lean as is, but we cannot overstate the value of establishing a Direct SME within the practice or organization to help set up, train, and serve as the staff champion to not only learn but truly leverage Direct exchange of records and communication. This isn’t a one-time thing if providers really want this effort to stick, so finding a willing cheerleader to drive momentum can be a game-changer for everyone involved! (Pro Tip: Consider nominating whoever maintains the fax machine…our guess is they’re going to be game for change!)
  4. Don’t Forget to Hit ‘Publish’ – Updating your Direct address in the National Provider Directory is not only a great way to increase communication via your cool new sharing tool, but it helps drive acceptance throughout the industry of Direct as a viable and valuable mechanism for connecting providers.
  5. Share Your Digits – OK, technically it’s an address, but make sure that other providers, clinics, and hospitals know your Direct address for communicating. And almost as importantly, insist on that as your method of communication whenever possible to really gain traction.

Because post-acute providers have a huge need for communication tools and interoperability-like functionality to support the aging population, we simply must elevate these physicians and their staff to meet the demands, empowered and equipped. The budgets and IT departments just aren’t there to magically impact caretakers who have a pivotal role in quality, outcomes, and cost. Leveraging electronic data sharing in post-acute via Direct and other practical, affordable solutions pays dividends over and again.


Physicians Practice: Interoperability: An overlooked solution to staffing challenges (physicianspractice.com)

Healthcare Business Today: The Golden Years: Interoperable We Stand, Disconnected We Fall – Healthcare Business Today

McKnight’s Long-Term Care News: The silver tsunami factor: Creating a disaster recovery plan for the impending healthcare devastation – Guest columns – McKnight’s Long-Term Care News (mcknights.com)