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EHR vendors and post-acute care (PAC) providers have made significant improvements in data exchange capabilities. However, a report released by Porter Research indicates that the two parties need to put in more effort to achieve interoperability.

Puzzle Pieces - Importance of Interoperability

Physicians refer patients to hospices, home care, and palliative care, making interoperability increasingly important. Efficient data exchange between care providers and physicians makes a lot of difference. However, health IT used by post-acute care providers has always lagged.

Findings of the 2020 Interoperability Survey

The interoperability survey conducted in 2020 included 100 physicians, discharge planners, care navigators, and 300 care providers. The objective of this survey was to compare 2020’s interoperability findings with 2019’s findings.

Seventy-four percent of physicians who took part in the survey in 2020 indicated that they would prefer switching less efficient post-acute care providers to increase interoperability. Sixty percent of physicians in the 2019 survey felt that interoperability would increase if they worked with post-acute care providers who effectively produced electronic referrals. These findings point out the increasing demand for interoperability.

The 2020 report further revealed that 95 percent of post-acute care providers believe interoperability with their referral sources is essential. This proved that post-acute care providers now comprehend the importance of interoperability since only 34 percent appreciated the practice in 2019.

This understanding prompted the need to suggest improvements in their EHR systems. Consequently, 58 percent of the PAC providers interviewed noted that the EHR systems had recorded significant improvements compared to last year.

The 2020 survey also found some factors hindering interoperability. Most post-acute care providers cannot receive and interpret medical transcription services. Also, most of the post-acute care providers still communicate using fax and telephone. For this reason, 85 percent of discharge planners, care navigators, and physicians were dissatisfied with the ability of post-acute care providers to communicate using electronic means.

Levels of Interoperability Maturity

According to the survey, there are several levels of interoperability maturity observed among the post-acute care providers.

Most respondents from the survey had basic maturity. Basic maturity involves the ability to interpret any form of EHR transcription. Seventy-two percent of post-acute care providers could accept and analyze clinical data of any kind, which shows some improvement compared to just 34 percent in 2019.

The survey rated the ability to send and receive data electronically as average maturity. The documentation sent could include patient forms, visit notes, physician orders, and medication information. The survey revealed that only 50 percent of post-acute care providers reported that they could send status reports.

The report emphasized that proper communication between referring physicians and post-acute care providers is essential to ensure adequate treatment. In the 2020 survey, physicians noted that post-acute care providers are poor communicators. The care providers either responded late or even did not receive the information.

Solving Interoperability Challenges

Several parties have taken the initiative to upscale interoperability among caregivers for the benefit of the patients. These networks have chipped in and pushed care providers, data exchange vendors, and EHR vendors to stick to a standard information exchange platform. They strive to enhance connectivity, security, privacy, and optimal query retrieval to enhance interoperability.