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AHIMA Summit Highlights Future of HIT

MacKenzie Kimball, for HealthLeaders Media, June 14, 2010

During the American Health Information Management Association's (AHIMA) Long-Term and Post-Acute Care (LTPAC) Health Information Technology (HIT) Summit, held June 7-8 in Baltimore, MD, industry leaders and representatives from a variety of organizations met to discuss the future of HIT in LTPAC settings.

Eric Dishman, director of health innovation and policy at Intel Corporation and the keynote speaker, kicked off the summit with a presentation on the shift away from long-term care facilities to home and community-based care in the near future.

This model of care is very different from the current model of institutionalized long-term care and will transform how providers deliver services and brand their organizations. During his presentation, Dishman outlined the major building blocks of community-based care systems, which are as follows:

  • Care coordination
  • Telehealth/e-care capabilities
  • Social network/online communities
  • Virtual call center capability
  • Remote fleet management
  • Service aggregation
  • Broadband to community
  • Volunteer training/management

Dishman believes that to successfully build community-based care systems, long-term care facilities will have to partner with other organizations, such as local businesses, physicians, dentists, and technology companies. In addition to partnerships, the community-based care model will also rely heavily on the use of electronic health records (EHR) and the interoperability of HIT systems, which were main focuses of discussions throughout the summit.

Although LTPAC providers were not included in the EHR adoption incentive program of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, speakers at the AHIMA summit emphasized the importance of EHR use by these providers. One reason for LTPAC providers to begin EHR adoption efforts is that incentive programs may eventually be expanded to include these providers.

As outlined in the LTPAC HIT Roadmap for 2010-2012, which was unveiled at the summit, the LTPAC Collaborative will be "advocating for full participation, consideration, and benefits for LTPAC providers in national, state, and regional HIT incentives, investments, and initiatives." In addition, the HITECH Act requires the secretary to conduct a study on whether incentive payments for EHR adoption should be available to other providers.

According to Jennie Harvell, M.ed., senior policy analyst in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services, this study should be completed in October and delivered to Congress in December. LTPAC organizations that begin EHR adoption and implementation efforts now will be in better positions if and when incentive programs are expanded to include other providers.

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