There is no doubt that plenty of technological solutions for healthcare need to support acute care settings. These providers are often tasked with responding to emergent conditions and time (and data) is of the essence. But where we collectively fall short in leveling-up healthcare delivery across the continuum of care is in dropping the ball on the tools available to post-acute, long-term care providers.
Hospitals have been the focus of many interoperability efforts to date, and we can understand the strategic desire to intervene early in a care episode. But this continues to put the focus on reactive solutions when it comes to interoperability efforts. We advocate for increasing proactive healthcare communication to everyone, and certainly those providers caring for patients for a strategic duration should get some attention and fun tools too, right?!
How Long-Term Care Providers Support Restoration and Prevent Readmission
If we’re shifting strategy (as our industry should) to keeping folks minimally using the healthcare system (#unnecessarilycontroversial) and free from admissions, giving some real attention to the value of long-term care providers is a huge way to literally strengthen patients.
Consider physical therapy for a moment; PT practices are historically very rarely front-and-center for interoperability initiatives. This is such a miss! After an accident, injury, or surgery, engaging with physical therapy is an amazing means of helping patients not just adapt to their condition(s), but to overcome lingering side effects and limitations. This isn’t just about preventing costly readmissions (though that is an awesome bottom-line kinda bonus), but it’s vital for ensuring quality of life. Skilled nursing and other post-acute providers offer similar benefits that simply can’t be taken for granted.
It Takes an Informed Village to Keep Patients on Course
The power of long-term, post-acute care in impacting quality of life and improved outcomes is very much related to how connected is the overall care team. When PCPs are not only aware of skilled nursing care plans and PT regimens for their patients, but can also reinforce their importance and encourage commitment, everyone fares better. On the contrary, when already stretched thin post-acute providers are placed on an island, the system breaks down and outcomes suffer.
Exchange of information that helps identify gaps in compliance or unexpected ending of treatment can empower providers and their staff to assist patients who disengage because they simply need help managing appointments, referrals, etc. All of that administrative burden is more easily transferred from the patient and loved ones to knowledgeable healthcare professionals when healthcare communication is ubiquitous via simple standards and user-friendly interfaces.