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Value-Based Care and Interoperability: The Indisputable Link

Regulatory support and the removal of tech barriers continue to promise acceleration for healthcare – but the growing long-term post-acute care (LTPAC) sector has yet to benefit from the same health IT investments as other sectors.

In the third episode of PointClickCare’s new podcast, our own Steve Holt, head of U.S. Government Affairs, and Bill Charnetski, Executive Vice President of Health Systems Solutions and Government Affairs at PointClickCare, are joined by another heavy hitter in the policy and advocacy space, John Vrba, the CEO of Burgess Square Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center. Together, they discuss how to connect with legislators to advocate for better funding, as well as the need to overcome obstacles such as technology adoption to achieve a true value-based care model.

Historically, the LTPAC community has been left out of the health IT investments made in acute care settings. How can we start to change this?

Changing the narrative must happen in three parts, Bill Charnetski explained. The first and most fundamental step will be to educate policymakers – both elected and in agencies – on the LTPAC sector and why legislation that may work for an acute care model won’t necessarily work in senior care. Second, data and insights from vendors, such as PointClickCare, can act as an untapped resource for agencies and elected officials to make better, more equitable decisions. And third, it will be crucial to demonstrate the potential of innovation and technology within LTPAC in the same way that it’s shown great potential in so many other sectors.

“The most important thing I think for us to remember is we’ll be doing this together. We will be working with the associations, the AHCA, Advion, LeadingAge, Argentum, and the folks at the Ambassador group. We’ll certainly be working with individual owners and operators and with vendors as well,” explained Charnetski. He emphasized that it will take the entire community to get the right technology infrastructure in place.

How can we empower our partners to get in front of legislators, regulators, and other stakeholders to advocate for change?

Holt, Charnetski, and Vrba all agreed that there is great need to bring the EMR and existing data to life to influence legislation that ultimately inspires change beyond acute care settings. Charnetski added, “I think so much in advocacy is about the narrative. It’s the storytelling…that’s what we have to keep doing with the policy makers elected or unelected. And that is to show them with evidence, with data, and with storytelling, what the impact can be.” This can look like following a patient or resident journey through the care continuum to demonstrate the potential of a centralized data source of patient information – from the physician time saved, to the seamless care transitions, all the way to the home setting. John Vrba references his mother’s recent knee surgery, saying when she was transferred from the hospital over to an SNF, the right technology allowed her data to follow her, quickly informing the next care team of her medication regimen and follow up care, as well as providing a comprehensive view into her medical history thus far. “What’s needed is seamless care transitions, and that’s why we need CMS’s support and Congress’s support.”

How can the adoption of technology make the lives of caregivers and the residents that they’re caring for better? 

To get a better pulse on the wellbeing of the nurses and CNAs in his own organization, Burgess Square Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, Vrba asked them a key question: What would make your job easier? They all shared the same response: Less paperwork. More data.

With the current nursing shortage and impending silver tsunami of Baby Boomers, it will be imperative to create more efficiencies in SNFs where possible. “There isn’t evidence that shows that just increasing the number of, or the proportion or ratio of nurses to residents, provides better care,” Charnetski explained, nodding to the possibility of an incoming, unfunded staffing mandate from Washington. “It’s not the optimal investment of resources. The optimal investment comes when you invest in beds and staffing and technology so that when you’re looking in the outlying years, you’ve got nurses doing work at the right level.”

Health IT has tremendous potential for mitigating clinical burnout, but for tech adoption to benefit all sectors of the healthcare ecosystem, better funding is needed to enable LTPAC providers to benefit from EHR adoption. On the contrary, by expanding regulations without investing in supporting technology, providers may feel even more burdened. Charnetski argued that the health and wellbeing of providers should come first, because from healthy providers comes better patient care.

How can grassroots advocacy move the needle in accomplishing whole person care?

It’s an exciting time in healthcare in that the right technology and patient data already exist – but to reap the benefits other healthcare sectors have seen with HIT adoption, educating policymakers about the LTPAC industry and why it should be a priority is a process that needs more support. We need to ensure that funding programs work to benefit all, not just some.

PointClickCare aims to be trusted advisors to agencies in the senior care space, and the next step will be to remind them that our data is an untapped resource, and if we leverage those insights, we can make better decisions when it comes to improving patient care.

To learn more, listen to the full podcast episode on Collision Point, PointClickCare’s podcast.

March 16, 2023