Few Nursing Homes Use Health IT for External Communication

June 29, 2015 in News

Few nursing homes use health IT to communicate with outside facilities, such as hospitals and off-site pharmacies, according to a study published in the journal Applied Clinical Informatics, FierceHealthIT reports.

Details of Study

For the study, researchers from the University of Missouri analyzed the health information exchange readiness of 16 nursing homes.

The study was part of a project, funded by a $14.8 million CMS grant, aimed at reducing avoidable hospital readmissions among nursing home residents (Hall, FierceHealthIT, 6/26).

Findings                     

According to the study, all of the reviewed nursing homes had technology to support patient care tasks.

Researchers found that health IT in nursing homes was often used for:

  • Appointment scheduling;
  • Admissions and pre-admissions;
  • Laboratory specimen drawing;
  • Pharmacy orders and reconciliation;
  • Pharmacy-medication reconciliation; and
  • Social work discharge planning (Alexander et al., ACI, June 2015).

Most nursing homes’ technology was mainly used to communicate internally, rather than externally, according to the study.

In addition, the study found that the nursing homes often used separate systems to track patients’ medications and schedule appointments (FierceHealthIT, 6/26).

The researchers concluded that each facility needed additional human and technological resources to support HIE networks (ACI, June 2015).

Next Steps

In the next phase of the project, researchers will seek to determine whether implementing HIEs can improve communication regarding resident care. They also will look at how nursing home workers feel about integrating HIEs into their workflows (FierceHealthIT, 6/26).

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