Writing for Beckers Hospital Review, Gary Wizenread, President and CEO of Cordata Healthcare Innovations, posited seven things to know about EMRs and care coordination:
- Capabilities are currently limited. Although EMRs can have basic features added to handle tasks associated with inpatient care paths, care coordination in such instances is largely synonymous with inpatient case management. From a hospital’s perspective, the primary goal is to conclude an acute care episode.
- Care coordination was not a consideration when EMRs were originally designed. EMRs were designed several years ago to be used solely by physicians as digital versions of the traditional chart — a single point of information access about a patient’s condition and the clinical activities within single healthcare facilities.
- The data required for care coordination depends on a patient’s needs. Outpatient specialty care coordination for patients with complex or chronic conditions requires a more robust and flexible approach. Chronic care patients patients typically see multiple providers at multiple facilities, and treatment plans might extend over many months or years. Specific, standard metrics must be tracked to gauge progress.
- Care coordination extends beyond meaningful use. Largely in response to Stage 3 meaningful use stage (MU3), EMR vendors are working to add care coordination modules; however, MU3 sets a very low baseline, specifying that “patient-generated health data or data from a non-clinical setting is incorporated into the certified EHR technology for more than 15% of all unique patients.”
- Care coordination will be a cornerstone of future centers of excellence. It is no overstatement to say that using EMRs to coordinate oncology patients could compromise CoC accreditation. While it is true that not every specialty has such a “gold standard” accreditation, oncology offers a useful template for maturing care coordination capabilities in other specialties.
- Interoperability and data sharing are critical. Some of the motivation to use EMRs for care coordination is economic, but reduced IT maintenance fees must be balanced against the costs of patient outmigration, for instance, or low surgical conversion rates (to name just two areas where care coordination improves business outcomes).
- The big challenge is around interoperability and data sharing. The American Medical Association (AMA) has acknowledged the need for full EMR interoperability. Pressure is mounting on the big vendors to enable more data sharing.
Wizenread concludes by commenting, “the more care coordination, the better” and notes that EMRs can play a big role in care coordination, particularly when it comes to data sharing between facilities—but it will take time for the industry to get there.