By the time patients enter post-acute care, they’ve seen many medical professionals, been to many care locations and accumulated lots of health care data along the way. According to Nick Knowlton, the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for cloud-based health care software provider Brightree, chronically ill patients typically have records with more than ten providers.

“Coordinating the different pieces of information is very important because our providers are seeing some of the sickest, most complex patients out there,” Knowlton said.

For too long, the process of transferring data from one care location to the next has been far from seamless, causing headaches for patients and clinicians alike.

“We have found the biggest complaint from patients is having to go over everything that just happened with every new part of our health care system that they utilize,” said Paul Pisano, CEO of Interim HealthCare of Hartford.

Patient-centered interoperability

Many post-acute care companies looking to address those complaints have found interoperability — the ability of different information technology systems and software applications to exchange data — to be a game-changer.

“If a patient is moving to the hospice setting all their care records from different providers they’ve been seeing in their recent history should come along with them. The same thing should go for home health,” Knowlton said.

“Quality is essential to our agency. Interoperability is a key piece to achieving quality care with every patient.”

With systems that communicate information to each other in real time, providers can easily see a thorough history of what a patient has experienced at every step of his or her treatment. When data is able to follow patients from care setting to care setting, providers are better able to improve care plans, track outcomes and take guessing out of the equation.

Benefits of using interoperability

Interoperability leads to significant efficiency gains at every stage in a patient’s experience, from the intake process to discharge. It also allows caregivers to improve their patient care by ensuring they have the most accurate information at their fingertips.

“By having information from other care locations in real time, our agency is able to see a true detailed picture of what our patient has experienced. Without interoperability, a patient’s first hours, days or in some cases weeks are missing vital information that could help us provide even better care,” said Tarrah Lowry-Schreiner, President and CEO of Sangre de Cristo Hospice & Palliative Care.

According to Knowlton, 80 percent of providers see an increase in efficiency when interoperability is in place. Nearly 90 percent of providers report quality improvements to patient care when health information technology incorporates interoperability.

“Quality is essential to our agency. Interoperability is a key piece to achieving quality care with every patient,” Lowry-Schreiner said.