Kindred sees the future of healthcare as highly interconnected – from one provider to another – and linked with patients, their families and caregivers.

Better use of new technology to coordinate healthcare and achieve improved outcomes and patient experiences is widely regarded as the wave of the future and a necessary evolution in our field. The government has a long history of supporting this as a goal. Starting in 2009 with the HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act, there has been significant funding allocated to this movement. HITECH provides money for organizations to improve and augment technology – a multi-billion dollar investment in the hospitals and doctors that serve the nation’s patients. There are now minimum requirements for Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and standards for the moving of clinical information as a patient transitions from provider to provider.

More Effective Healthcare Information Exchange is a Top Priority

Kindred is not eligible for HITECH incentives – they are designated for acute and ambulatory care facilities, not for post-acute providers. However, we feel so strongly about the principles of improved information systems and information exchange that we are making our own commitment to the same mission. We are working with our acute care partners to improve the coordination of care. The new standards for information exchange will help us do that.

Kindred is investing in technology that will allow us to connect our clinical applications, so that when patients are discharged from a Kindred facility, their information can follow within standardized care summaries whether they go on to another Kindred facility or the information goes back to the primary care physicians who will follow them after a move home.

Improved communication has many benefits: services can be better coordinated and integrated, less money spent for better outcomes, care provided in the most appropriate setting and care transitions better managed, all while more effectively protecting patient privacy. We all win.

Better communication through new technology will create a live dialogue about any given patient’s care. Newly developed capabilities are a first step toward the goal of seamlessly handing off information from one setting to the next, so that each care setting can receive and process the information from the last, and then pass it on to the next setting. The information exchanged in the care summary might include the kinds of medications the patient is taking, dosages and frequency; current symptoms; lab tests performed and needed; and the names and contact information of providers involved in the patient’s care, among other information.

Robust and easy-to-use technology is key.  Some of these new information exchange solutions and the clinical systems on which they build – specifically mobile and portable applications – will be showcased at our upcoming Clinical Impact Symposium next week. The symposium is aimed at improving clinical practice in the post-acute continuum. We’ll be sharing some of our technology innovations with you right here on The Kindred Continuum as they are unveiled, so we hope you will stay tuned!

Editor's Note: Larry Wolf, Health Information Technology Strategist, has been with Kindred Healthcare for 25 years. He has over 35 years of experience in healthcare IT, with an emphasis on clinical systems across a wide spectrum of care settings, and he was an early developer of electronic health records. He is an active participant in many industry associations and government advisory panels, including the Federal Health Information Technology Policy Committee, the Long-Term Post-Acute Care Health Information Technology Collaborative, the American Health Care Association Health IT Task Force and the Federation of American Hospitals Health IT Task Force. The opinions expressed in this blog are his own and do not represent any of the committees or panels on which he serves.