Industry leaders have long understood that the growing complexities of the healthcare system necessitate the use of care coordination services. Faith Jones, the director of care coordination and lean consulting for HealthTechS3, says that when a care coordinator has access to information across the continuum, care can be managed more efficiently and gaps in care can be closed.
This, Jones says, is where a health information exchange (HIE) can help. Jones refers to an HIE as a data repository for healthcare providers. For care coordinators who manage the non-face-to-face work that clinics do for patients every day, access to an HIE could revolutionize the efficiency and effectiveness of that mission.
For instance, imagine that a care coordinator is assigned to help a patient named Mrs. Jones. The care coordinator is, in part, tasked with cross referencing Mrs. Jones’ care across her primary care physician, her cardiologist and at least one other specialist, in addition to pulling all information available on any recent diagnostic testing, medication refills and so on. For the care coordinator, this means sorting through all of Mrs. Jones’ individual files, calling her cardiologist’s office and other specialists and taking the time to compile and update any additional documentation to achieve the most complete picture of her health.
Now imagine if the care coordinator had access to an HIE. Instead of taking the time to call each of Mrs. Jones’ providers, wait for a response, and scramble together a loose picture of the patient’s health, having access to an HIE means the care coordinator can gather all of Mrs. Jones’ data quickly and see all the exchanges between her many providers instantly.
“If you are part of an HIE, then it can complete the picture for care coordination,” Jones says. “Think of what it would mean for care coordinators, who manage all the behind-the-scenes care and background work, to have all of that data immediately available at their fingertips.”
Although Jones says that hospitals have bought into the potential and value of an HIE in care coordination, primary care clinics have not invested in HIEs at the same rate.
“Sometimes we miss how valuable HIEs can be in care coordination, and there hasn’t been much discussion about the value HIEs can create within the care coordination model for primary care providers,” Jones says.
Although time and the upfront cost of an HIE could initially dissuade primary care clinics, Jones outlines three reasons why an HIE is the perfect complement to a care coordination management.
1. Drives everyday efficiencies
Eliminating time-consuming phone calls and data mining through patient charts means that coordinators can use their time more efficiently and effectively.
2. Creates revenue opportunities
“When you close gaps in care that means patients are getting the follow ups and the follow through they need, and what goes along with that is also direct revenue for healthcare systems,” Jones says.
3. Hits the triple aim
Successfully utilizing HIEs within care coordination management models means better care for patients, better care for your patient population and streamlined management for the healthcare systems as a whole.
“Information is power,” Jones says. “If you can access that information in an easy way without wading through a sea of data, then you can become a better organization and provide better care coordination for your patients.” To learn more about how an HIE can close gaps in care management, tune in to the webinar Using an HIE to Complete the Care Coordination Picture on July 22 at 1 p.m. EDT. Led by Jones, the webinar will also detail the required elements of chronic care management and offer a use case for integrating the care coordination platform with an HIE. Reserve your spot today.