BOULDER, Colo., April 10, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In an effort to help long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC) providers—such as nursing homes, assisted living, home health and hospice—improve transitions of care, CORHIO (the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization) is offering special funding for Boulder County LTPACs to adopt and measure the impact of health information exchange (HIE) on quality of patient care.
Qualifying organizations are encouraged to apply for the LTPAC Transitions Program as soon as possible, because there are limited openings available. Applications are available for download at www.corhio.org.
Individuals with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or cancer are most vulnerable to inadequate care transitions putting them at risk for adverse consequences, though any person who has a need to visit more than one doctor or care provider can experience frustrations going from one provider to the next.
"All too often, patients must rely on their own memories for critical health information due to gaps in communication between their health care providers and caregivers. Unfortunately, this can lead to delays in receiving medical care, dangerous medication interactions and other life-threatening situations," explains CORHIO Long-Term Care Development and Outreach Manager Pamela Russell. "Additionally, memory loss and dementia are common among elderly patients, which make access to accurate, up-to-date medical records even more vital for physicians and nurses taking care of these patients."
Improving care transitions is also a key component of changes to Medicare payments coming later this year. Starting October 1, 2012, hospitals with a high number of preventable patient readmissions will be penalized by an amount equal to one percent of their total Medicare billings by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. This imminent change in Medicare payments is prompting hospitals to strengthen relationships with long-term care providers in their communities and implement processes that improve transitions of care. Safe and effective patient transitions—including good communication between providers—from one health care setting to another can help to reduce readmissions.
"When a patient is discharged from the hospital into long-term care, the HIE enables access to up-to-date patient health information like test results and discharge summaries," says Russell. "This allows providers to better coordinate care transitions and improve patient outcomes. If patients are receiving better care, they are less likely to experience medical complications and will avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital."
A total of 12 LTPAC organizations across Colorado have already been awarded funding for CORHIO's Transitions Program, including four in Boulder County—Boulder Community Home Care, Frasier Meadows Health Care and Assisted Living, HospiceCare of Boulder and Broomfield Counties, and Professional Home Health Care.
"The homecare staff at Professional Home Health Care is very excited to participate in CORHIO's health information exchange program," said Janet Puglisi, director of Professional Home Health Care. "Every day we face the challenge of providing care based on limited information. This new ability to share much-needed health information will improve the quality of the care we provide to our clients."
The initial funds for the launch of CORHIO's LTPAC Care Transitions Program were awarded to CORHIO by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) through a challenge grant. The grant supports long-term and post-acute care providers in Boulder, Colorado Springs, Pueblo and the San Luis Valley as they work to implement processes to improve care transitions to and from hospitals in their communities. CORHIO has funding available for additional LTPAC organizations in these communities.
Participating LTPAC organizations will receive training and access to the CORHIO HIE, via CORHIO's PatientCare 360® Web portal. Participants will be requested to attend local community-level care transitions meetings and complete several assessments and surveys over the course of the program.
Please call CORHIO at (720) 285-3200 or visit www.corhio.org/for-providers/long-term-care.aspx for details about the LTPAC Transitions Program and to request application.
CORHIO is dedicated to improving health care quality for all Coloradans through health information exchange (HIE). As the state designated entity for HIE, CORHIO collaborates with health care stakeholders including physicians, hospitals, clinics, public health, long-term care, laboratories, health plans and patients to improve care collaboration through secure systems and processes for sharing clinical information. CO-REC, a CORHIO initiative, assists primary care providers in adopting, implementing and becoming meaningful users of electronic health record (EHR) systems. CORHIO is a not-for-profit supported in large part by grants, including awards from the Colorado Health Foundation and from federal ARRA HITECH funds. CORHIO's technical infrastructure is built on industry-leading HIE technology developed and maintained by Medicity. For more information about CORHIO, please visit www.corhio.org.