In the drive for adoption of electronic health records, the post-acute sector has been overlooked. That’s slowly changing as the CMS begins to shift its attention that way.
As part of its long-awaited interoperability proposed rule released last month, the CMS issued a request for information seeking industry feedback on how it can give post-acute providers incentives to adopt interoperable health information technology systems. The agency has largely attributed the sector’s lag in EHR adoption to lack of federal incentives, since providers in the post-acute setting weren’t eligible for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.
“We are asking for comments on how CMS can ensure that post-acute care providers adopt health technology, allowing for a more seamless flow of data,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said during a speech in February at HIMSS19.
That’s important, suggested Neal Reizer, chair of the Home Care Technology Association of America, an affiliate of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, since care settings no longer work in isolation.
“You can probably run your own agency on paper, but I think where it really hurts you is when you’re a referral partner,” added Reizer, who also serves as senior vice president of product management at Homecare Homebase, a home health software provider.
There’s more than 90% adoption of EHRs in acute-care hospitals and 85% of office-based physicians have them. By contrast, just 19% of post-acute providers surveyed had EHRs in place as of 2017, according to a market research survey by Black Book. And just 64% of skilled-nursing facilities had implemented EHRs in 2016, according to the most recent data from HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.