News, Skilled Nursing Facility

64% of SNFs use EHRs, but far fewer have all four interoperability capabilities

Earlier this month, the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released findings from a nationally representative survey on EHR adoption and health information exchange among U.S. SNFs.

The survey shows that in 2016, over half of all U.S. SNFs (64%) used EHRs to manage patient health information. However, only one out of 10 (9%) reported that their staff was easily able to integrate patient health information into their EHR without manual entry or scanning, and only 7% reported the ability to simultaneously engage in the four domains of interoperability, which include the ability to send, receive, find and integrate resident health information

The brief acknowledges that EHR adoption rates among SNFs lag compared to acute care settings as do rates of engagement in the different interoperability, partly due to their ineligibility to receive financial incentives to adopt and use EHRs under CMS’ EHR incentive programs. Researchers identified initial costs of EHR adoption, along with user perception and implementation problems as additional barriers to EHR adoption across long-term and post-acute care settings.

In spite of these barriers, however, SNFs’ EHR adoption is higher than those of other long-term and post-acute care service providers such as adult day service centers. This success level may be attributed to the EHR and health information exchange investments made by hospitals, the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation (IMPACT) Act of 2014, and efforts like the State Medicaid Directors Letter #16-003. The ONC’s findings also suggest that factors such as participation in a health information organization (HIO) contribute to advancing interoperability among SNFs.

The ONC emphasizes that “Patient care coordination and continuity of care are paramount in [the long-term care] setting where transitions of care are common. Thus, EHR adoption and interoperability of SNFs’ health information systems is critical to facilitating transitions of care.”

 

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