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How MatrixCare is simplifying the move to interoperability

As the drive for simplifying the move to interoperability gains momentum, the focus has mainly been on educating and implementing solutions for acute-care providers. But in working with our customers, MatrixCare understood that post-acute (or out-of-hospital) providers had the same basic need as acute providers: timely access to accurate documentation as patients moved from acute-care settings to LTPACs.

At the same time, we could also see that people want the security of receiving care at home when recovering from injury or illness. And that has only grown during the pandemic. That’s why MatrixCare took action to become the first organization fully focused on post-acute care to join the CommonWell Health Alliance.

We knew many post-acute providers have never been educated about what interoperability could do for them. Our work with CommonWell has been based on the idea that this industry was starving for a solution to a broad problem: how to streamline the work of administrative intake staff who chase down documentation from hospitals and referral sources. We knew if that process could be automated and done securely, it would be indispensable to our customers.

We intentionally began simply so providers wouldn’t be overwhelmed by all the terminology and tech standards. We took on education as part of our broader interoperability strategy and decided to simplify the inherent complexity as much as possible.

One of the first things we educated them about was that, despite being an innovative solution, at its core, CommonWell is a tool that is an alternative to phone calls and faxes. Instead, your EHR requests records through the network, and the provider’s EHR responds with related documents electronically, securely, and efficiently. Vital clinical information flows directly into your MatrixCare EHR automatically, with no need to pick up a phone or wait by a fax machine.

Another key thing we tell organizations who are considering implementing CommonWell is that the job aid is about nine pages long—and it’s mostly pictures. The reason it’s mostly pictures is because MatrixCare built the required functionality directly into existing intake workflows. This means agencies can process referrals as they normally would. The biggest change is an additional location for grabbing documents from providers without having to call them.

To keep things simple, we started with a simple document viewing area of the EHR, and we only shared a C-CDA and pdf face sheet into the network. It was important to start simply so we didn’t overwhelm anyone with new tech, while also delivering a stable, effective solution. We released that in May 2019, and since then we’ve made or planned three significant updates.

The first update was an expansion of the documents we share through CommonWell. Now we have configurable options to share different documents generated from the patient’s clinical record, such as plans of care and verbal orders, as well as certain specified documents. We believe the most important update was the ability to share clinician visit notes. When that setting is turned on, users see the last available visit note by discipline. This means that when a patient goes to the hospital or back to their primary care physician, those providers can see that last document or visit note and know exactly what was assessed at that time and the patient’s status based on what is in the note. We also share the most recent versions of significant assessments like the OASIS or comprehensive assessment. This ensures that key time points for an admission in home health are clearly stated for organizations who are looking at patients in MatrixCare’s EHR.

The second update is event notification, which is piloting right now. This sends real-time event updates to all providers involved in a patient’s care. For instance, a home health provider would know that a patient had been readmitted to a hospital before showing up at their home for an appointment. It also allows health systems that referred a patient to a provider using MatrixCare to see the patient’s progress: they’ll get a notice when a patient is admitted or discharged from a facility.

The third feature is still in development but will be ready early next year. We’ll be offering the ability to reconcile data out of the many documents that may be shared when a patient moves to a new care setting. We heard that some organizations were getting as many as 300 documents back after a request, and that is far too many to manage and get any value from. We realized that even five documents are too many if you can’t get a quick summary of medications, allergies, and other data. So with our new feature, when a user gets documents from CommonWell, they can process documents in bulk and push them down to the point-of-care device, which keeps the process simple, easy, and accurate.

In the end, our work with interoperability is aimed at reducing the number of people it takes to administer and maintain medical records or do intake. The way to do that is to provide tools that facilitate connectivity to your other providers and eliminate some of the administrative overhead that goes with using paper, like faxes, or making phone calls. Clinicians are already stretched thin, and the labor market is already very competitive. Using technology helps everyone do better work with less effort.

A conversation with Chris Pugliese, Senior Product Manager, MatrixCare.

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