Health information technology is a key tool in improving the quality of long-term-care services, witnesses testified before the Senate Finance healthcare subcommittee.
Upcoming reform efforts to overhaul the healthcare system provide an opportunity to improve the quality of long-term-care services, said Ray Scheppach, executive director of the National Governors Association. Standards are needed to enhance quality measurement, he said, adding that measurements, standards and processes to coordinate care could lead to the development of different reimbursement models that would more effectively reward long-term-care providers and customize care for patients.
Federal and state initiatives to develop and adopt interoperable systems for health IT and exchange will be essential in reaching this goal, Scheppach testified.
Cost-effective proposals to improve quality in long-term-care services do exist, said Joshua Wiener, senior fellow and program director for aging, disability and long-term care at RTI International. These include establishing a Medicaid pay-for-performance demonstration for nursing homes, and increasing support for integrated data systems that cut across provider settings, he suggested.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), who chairs the healthcare panel, held the hearing to underscore the lack of progress made over the past 20 years in reforming long-term-care benefits and services. A bipartisan commission back in 1990 made a series of recommendations to improve long-term-care coverage, yet Congress never acted on this blueprint for change, Rockefeller said.