As COVID-19 continues to impact the country, providers across the continuum face new challenges delivering care and ensuring safety for their patients and themselves. During this period, sharing real-time information about patients’ care encounters across provider types and care settings matter more than ever. In particular, hospitals sharing admission, discharge, and transfer (ADT) events with COVID-19 patients’ community-based providers is critical to ensure the best treatment course and safer more seamless care transitions for infected and recovering patients.
Real-time ADT-based notifications include information about a patient’s current care encounter, demographic details, information about the provider or institution sending the notification, and, as permissible, clinical information. This data enables providers across the continuum to make informed and coordinated decisions about their patients’ treatment and care transition plans. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recognized the importance of such ADT notifications in supporting patient care and finalized a new Condition of Participation (CoP) as part of the recently published Interoperability and Patient Access Final Rule (85 FR 25510). The CoP requires hospitals to share electronic patient event notifications, or e-notifications, with other community providers, such as primary care physicians (PCPs) and post-acute care providers, to facilitate better care coordination and improve patient outcomes.
The necessity and benefit of these e-notifications has come into stark relief as providers and the healthcare system more broadly fight COVID-19. ADT-based e-notifications are an accessible and easy way to help enable better safety for COVID-19 patients and their providers while also ensuring efficient use and appropriate allocation of scarce resources. For example, ADT-based e-notifications can:
Enhance Safety for Patients Protecting patient safety and providing appropriate treatment is especially urgent during a crisis like COVID-19 when resources are limited and staff is stretched. E-notifications allow hospitals that treat COVID-19 patients to more rapidly get in touch with a patient’s other providers and obtain important medical histories to help guide treatment and clinical decision-making. Traditional exchange of data facilitated by phone calls, faxes, or labor-intensive data searches can introduce treatment delays, unnecessary or harmful interventions, and frustrations for providers. The faster information can be exchanged and a patient’s history is known by the hospital care team, the easier it is to effectively and safely treat the patient with the most appropriate interventions.
Enhance Safety for Providers: Hospital e-notifications are especially important for post-acute and other community-based providers that will continue treatment for COVID-19 patients discharged from the hospital. Because e-notifications provide context about the patient’s most recent encounter, including diagnoses where permissible, they help guide the continuation of care. Receiving e-notifications from hospitals allows such providers to appropriately prepare staff and put safety measures in place prior to treating COVID-19 patients. In particular, Skilled Nursing Facilities need time to properly and safely intake infected patients while Home Health Agencies need to prepare and equip their nurses for visits to homes of infected patients.
Open Hospital Beds for the Sickest Patients: Through real-time e-notifications, hospitals are able to more easily and quickly communicate and share information with COVID-19 patients’ other community-based providers who will care for recovering patients after they are discharged from the hospital. This exchange of information allows hospital care teams to more seamlessly and quickly transition recovering COVID-19 patients to the next level of care, which opens scarce hospital beds for the sickest patients.
Improve Care for COVID-19 Patients: Real-time e-notifications from hospitals allow PCPs and care coordinators to know when their patients have inpatient or ED events. In particular, discharge notifications can trigger critical follow-up services, including telehealth-based visits, to ensure COVID-19 patients recover safely and fully after they leave the hospital. Engaging COVID-19 patients after a hospitalization can help prevent readmissions and keep patients healthy in their homes. At the same time, PCPs are able to support the financial viability of their practices by being able to provide and bill for Transitional Care Management Services and ensure patient engagement in ongoing preventive and other clinical care.
Bolster Public Health Response: Aggregated and de-identified ADT-based notifications offer wide-ranging and powerful real-time data for local, state, and federal public health officials to detect emerging COVID-19 hotspots and intense ED, hospital, ICU strain. Real-time data about the hospital and ED utilization can help public health officials direct and allocate scarce resources to the highest need areas quickly.
These are just some examples of how ADT-based e-notifications can play an important part in helping healthcare organizations effectively, efficiently, and safely deliver care for their patients during the ongoing pandemic – and beyond.
About Jay Desai, CEO & Co-Founder, PatientPing
Jay started PatientPing in 2013 with one goal in mind: to connect providers everywhere to seamlessly coordinate patient care. Prior to founding PatientPing, Jay worked at the CMS Innovation Center (CMMI) where he helped develop ACOs, bundled payments, and other payment initiatives. Jay’s passion lies at the intersection of technology, policy, and community building. He has an MBA in healthcare management from Wharton and a BA from the University of Michigan.