Small and Large LTC Organizations: HIE is 'Necessary' to Transform Care

Date: June 6th, 2012Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: Long-Term Care

Columbine Chateau and Frasier Meadows Use HIE to Ensure Appropriate Care Transitions and Successful Coordination of Care

The long-term care system in the U.S. is often described as expensive, fragmented and difficult to navigate for both patients and health care professionals. By enabling long-term care organizations and hospitals a way to securely transfer patient information at a moment’s notice, the health information exchange (HIE) can fill in critical gaps in the care, ultimately enhancing the quality of life for patients. Without question, access to complete patient health records is critical for transitions of care and can enable clinicians’ to provide to the highest quality of care possible. In recent months, two very different long-term care facilities in Colorado have transformed patient care by connecting to the HIE.

In a Small Health Care Environment, HIE Is a Big Help

Columbine Chateau, a 12-bed family-run assisted living facility in Pueblo West, prides itself on the high level of care it provides for its residents. Its four-to-one staff-to-resident ratio far exceeds typical health standards. After hearing about the benefits of HIE from a colleague, Columbine Chateau owner and registered nurse, Chery Lucero, believed that joining the HIE was necessary to improve the continuum of care at Columbine Chateau.

“When one of my residents was admitted to the emergency room at a local hospital, I had to wait until there was something in writing after they were discharged to learn about the care they received. Quite often, the patient record would be incomplete or I wouldn’t receive all of the patient information that I needed,” explained Lucero. “With CORHIO, I can see everything that is going on and speak with the discharge planner in detail to better coordinate our resident intake process and ensure that sure my residents receive the proper care. There’s a cost involved to families if you don’t participate in HIE. I knew that joining was something I had to do.”

A Large Continuing Care Facility Uses HIE to Fill Information Gaps

Frasier Meadows, a continuing care community in Boulder, which offers independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing, connected to the HIE in April.

“Since going live on the HIE a few months ago, we have already seen an impact on patient care. In fact, we are now able to get patient information that we didn’t even know existed before,” said Georgia Berger, health information administrator at Frasier Meadows. Georgia is in charge of using the HIE in the skilled nursing division of Frasier Meadows, which has 108 residents.

“For instance, when a resident is referred to us, we may not get their latest paperwork. The patient may have done lab work at the hospital the day that they are admitted into Frasier, but we may not be aware of it. Through HIE, I can see the most up-to-date patient information, print out any lab work and give it to the physician. HIE helps us to avoid duplicative testing, which saves money and prevents our residents from having blood drawn multiple times,” continued Berger.

Exchange of health information is deeply relevant to the care transition process. Regardless of size, all long-term care organizations across Colorado have a lot to gain from joining the HIE.