Hospices Plan to Improve Care, Patients' Quality of Life with Health Information Exchange

Date: August 17th, 2011Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: Long-Term Care

Streamlined Medical Data Exchange & Referrals Will Help Hospices Enhance Patient Care

HospiceCare of Boulder and Broomfield Counties-Colorado's oldest hospice, and one of the most progressive-will be the first hospice to connect to CORHIO's health information exchange (HIE). It is projected that they will "go live" on the CORHIO HIE next month in September. Simultaneously, Denver Hospice, the state's largest hospice, is also considering the benefits of HIE connectivity.

Patients transitioning to hospice care are typically in medical crisis and have typically seen multiple providers in the previous months. Historically, hospice care providers have often struggled to gather new patients' complete medical histories because their information can be scattered across so many locations including physician offices, nursing homes, hospitals and labs. This information is essential to help patients live as fully and comfortably as possible, and to avoid complications.

The HIE will allow hospices to receive referrals and access important patient information, including lab test and pathology results, x-ray, MRI and other imaging reports, and physician transcription reports. Later this year, the network will be upgraded to include patient medication lists, allergies and immunizations as well as lab and imaging orders.

HospiceCare of Boulder and Broomfield Counties' Medical Director, Dr. Michele Ferguson explains, "Having a unified HIE means that when a patient moves from a hospital to a hospice, there won't be any gaps. We'll be able to pull information about our patients in real-time, so that we can start care quickly and seamlessly."

During the admissions process, hospice staff usually has to track down patient records from various providers, which can be in the form of faxes up to 100 pages long. It often can take a significant amount of time to receive, scan and distribute medical records to the hospice staff.

"In hospice, we're not only treating the physical symptoms of our patients, we're also developing a plan of care to meet their emotional and social needs," said Denver Hospice CEO, Bev Sloan. "Through CORHIO's network, we can receive patient information in a more timely, accurate and thorough fashion. By having a complete picture of our patient's clinical history, we can quickly develop a high quality treatment plan." On any given day, Denver Hospice is caring for 800 patients in eight counties.

Earlier this year, CORHIO was awarded $1.7 million by the HIE Challenge Grant Program run by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). This grant supports long-term and post-acute care providers, including hospices, as they work to implement processes to improve care transitions to and from hospitals in their communities.

"We're very happy to be part of the initial rollout of the HIE, so that we can start participating as a user of the information as it becomes live," said Ferguson. "We want to continue to be a leader in hospice care in Boulder and we see this as the next step in improving the care of our patients."

Related content:

Press release for long term care transitions Challenge Grant