CMS Encourages Use of EHRs in Long-Term Care Facility Proposal

July 16, 2015 in News

On Monday, CMS issued a proposed rule that encourages nursing homes and long-term care facilities to explore ways in which electronic health records could support beneficiaries’ quality of care, FierceEMR reports (Durben Hirsch, FierceEMR, 7/14).

Background

About 1.5 million U.S. residents receive care from more than 15,000 long-term care facilities or nursing homes across the country that participate in Medicaid and Medicare. According to the American Health Care Association, CMS is the largest payer of long-term care services in the country. About 64% of individuals in nursing homes are Medicaid beneficiaries, while 14% are covered by Medicare.

Proposed Rule Details

Overall, the proposed rule aims to improve the quality of care in nursing homes providing care to Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries through various proposals that aim to reduce avoidable hospital readmissions and infections, bolster care quality and implement new safety measures (Dickson, Modern Healthcare, 7/13).

Although the proposed rule does not require nursing homes and long-term care facilities to adopt EHRs, it does include several provisions that explore the use of EHRs and electronic data sharing. For example, if facilities maintain EHRs, the proposed rule would allow residents to:

  • Access medical records electronically; and
  • Purchase copies of their medical records, including in electronic format.

In addition, the proposed rule:

  • Encourages facilities to explore how EHRs can support efforts to develop and share standardized discharge summaries;
  • Proposes a common clinical data set to support the sharing of summary of care records electronically;
  • Recommends that facilities capturing data in electronic formats use certified health IT that allows for “real time” electronic data sharing with other providers; and
  • Requires facilities to conduct annual reviews, which would include health IT resources and electronic data sharing.

CMS wrote, “Our revisions to this rule are intended to recognize the advent of electronic health information technology and to accommodate and support adoption of [Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT] certified health IT and interoperable standards.” The agency added, “We believe that the use of such technology can effectively and efficiently help facilities and other providers improve internal care delivery practices, support the exchange of important information across care team members [including patients and caregivers] during transitions of care, and enable reporting of electronically specified clinical quality measures” (FierceEMR, 7/14).

CMS is taking public comments on the rule until Sept. 16 (Modern Healthcare, 7/14).

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