For years, connected health platforms struggled to gain a foothold in the long-term care industry.
That’s no longer the case: COVID-19 shattered the barriers standing in the way. Now, these platforms have no shortage of senior living and skilled nursing providers looking to make it easier for their residents to get the care they need without leaving facilities.
Becoming a connected health partner may seem daunting. It requires due diligence to establish trust-based relationships with hospitals, primary care providers, clinical specialists, and others entrusted with patients’ health outcomes.
But if done right, a connected health partner with strong relationships will have a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Seniors looking to move to long-term care will prioritize a community that is a connected health partner. And improved health outcomes will have a positive impact on operations.
Here are five benefits for long-term care providers who become connected health partners.
1. Better referral relationships
The best way to think about connected health is as a relationship between peers.
Hospitals, primary care providers, and other clinicians prefer to work with trusted partners that go to great lengths to continue caring for patients as they move from one care setting to another. Providers want to see any changes in condition, and record those changes electronically so everyone involved is on the same page.
It may help to think of connected health as an information highway, with data moving between providers. In that context, facilities need to invest in the technology necessary to provide and share that information.
Long-term care facilities that don’t make the necessary investments in technology, or commit to transparency and communication with their partners, wind up spending more scarce resources tracking down and sharing data.
On the other hand, a trusted connected health partner uses interoperability to support higher-quality services and a lower return-to-hospital rate.
2. Improved care transitions with connected health
Like a physical highway, an information highway has on and off ramps. A long-term care facility that is not a connected health partner doesn’t provide a proper off ramp for a resident that is leaving an acute care setting. This can create potential hazards down the road.
In these instances, when a patient is discharged from a hospital, they essentially ”disappear” from a referring provider’s perspective. Providers must rely on outdated solutions such as fax or a PDF file, which requires manual entry of important clinical information—and no way of knowing if that information will be followed.
Strong alignment in connected health partnerships provides both parties with the necessary information about a patient’s care and alerts all stakeholders in the relationship to changes in a patient’s condition to determine best courses of treatment.
This two-way monitoring of a patient lets providers collectively coordinate care.
3. Expedited admissions processes
Improving care transitions leads directly to expediting the admission reconciliation process for patients moving to long-term care settings from acute care facilities.
This frees staff at these facilities to prepare for a patient’s arrival, removing stress from the transition and eliminating hours that otherwise would have been spent entering information into the patient’s record by hand.
Cutting readmission time by just one hour per resident creates a significant cumulative time savings.
4. Connectivity to hospital electronic health records
A long-term care provider that establishes connected health platforms will gain the trust of its acute care partners.
Chief information officers at hospitals and health systems are rightfully concerned about protecting the information they share with connected health partners. They also want that information to be simple and concise.
If those elements are not in place, then both sides spend more hours maintaining records, which increases the risk of vital information being omitted between parties.
A connected health partnership in complete alignment increases the accuracy of the information that flows between acute care and long-term care settings.
5. Better resident outcomes with connected health
The data-sharing arrangement in a connected health partnership can eventually be used to predict trends in patient health, and to facilitate better health outcomes for patients. Reducing hospital readmissions, monitoring prescriptions to identify medications that may contribute to adverse events such as falls and elopements, and recording changes in a person’s condition directly in their EHRs allows clinicians to stay on top of a patient’s health, and be proactive in treatment.
Knowing that a partner is using technology to predict changes in conditions, such as incorporating predictive analytics into the care workflow, demonstrates a partnership worth keeping.