Patients discharged from a hospital stay or the E.R. often require follow-up care by primary care physicians and specialists. However, all too frequently that notification does not happen in a timely fashion which may put a smooth recovery at risk and can increase the likelihood of a return visit to the hospital soon after the initial discharge. Seamless communication in transitions of care is a critical component to both improving care and reducing healthcare costs.
In an effort to impact both the cost and effectiveness of care, a new service from the Delaware Health Information Network (DHIN) can provide automatic, electronic notification of a hospital-based encounter to non-hospital based providers responsible for patient care.
DHIN’s Encounter Notification System (ENS) delivers real-time alerts of a patient being admitted, transferred or discharged from a DHIN participating hospital. The encrypted notifications go directly to the computer systems of interested parties (such as primary care practices, patient-centered medical homes, and managed care organizations) when patients under their care experience a hospital-based encounter.
“Receiving discharge information immediately, instead of waiting for a family member to call, allows us to follow up the same or next day so the patient can have a good transition back to home,” says Stephanie Cygan of BAYADA Home Health Care. “The ENS is letting us be more efficient with our resources as well. Previously, we would often find out that a patient has been admitted to a hospital when one of our nurses made a scheduled visit to their home.”
Recognizing the need for thorough continuation of treatment, Medicare recently established reimbursement funding codes to encourage quick follow-up of patients being discharged from hospitals.
“Post hospital visits entail more work than routine visits,” said Christine Horah, DO, of Abigail Family Medicine in Newark, DE. “It’s important for us to make contact within 24 hours, if possible. ENS gives us the opportunity to do that as well as review the status of tests and create a treatment plan for the patient. It results in better care and should reduce the number of hospital readmissions.”
DHIN is now offering the Encounter Notification System to physicians, managed care organizations and health insurance companies after successfully testing the system since October 2013. The alerts generated by ENS—which indicate in real-time that a patient has been admitted, discharged or transferred from a hospital—are expected to help streamline the coordination of care among care management teams.
“ENS is the next big extension of our service to care providers in Delaware,” said Dr. Jan Lee, DHIN CEO. “With all hospitals and nearly all laboratories and radiology practices providing information to our network, getting real-time notifications sent directly where they are needed is both essential to good patient care and expected of modern medical information systems. It is helping to improve care and it is saving time and valuable medical resources.” [Read more…]