November 23, 2020
Telehealth adoption is experiencing an acceleration during the pandemic. CMS (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) waived certain restrictions in response to COVID-19, and a new report from the HHS (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) found that adoption increased for primary care visits by 50% during the first six months of 2020.
These new options and access to inpatient-outpatient electronic health record (EHR) data are also influencing patient care follow-up, per a new study published in the American Journal of Managed Care.
With seamless data exchange and the ability to schedule follow-ups via telehealth, care continuity is improving.
The study studied 241,510 hospital discharges in patients with diabetes. The researchers examined the rate of outpatient follow-ups, telemedicine, laboratory tests, and return emergency department visits or readmissions.
In cases of shared inpatient-outpatient EHR data, the results indicated there was a higher rate of telemedicine follow-ups and outpatient laboratory tests. With outpatient-only EHR data, it only occurred 22.9% of the time. The percentage increased to 27% with inpatient-outpatient EHR data.
The study determined that real-time clinical information availability during transitions coupled with telemedicine access can shift the care delivery without any adverse effect on patient outcomes with chronic diseases.
Further, the expansion of interoperability and EHR data exchange can significantly improve follow-up care efficiency.
Many challenges around health information exchange (HIE) still exist, as there’s no standard across the industry. A concerted effort to improve interoperability has been ongoing by HHS and CMS with the new interoperability rule published this year. However, it’s seen delay due to the pandemic.
As all players in the healthcare ecosystem work toward consistency around healthcare data exchange and interoperability, the goal of real-time data to fuel decision-making will only grow more critical. When clinicians have more data about a patient’s inpatient and outpatient history, they can enhance continuity of care, and that doesn’t necessarily have to occur within the confines of the physician’s office.
This study, like many others, highlights the criticality of HIE and interoperability. It also shows that telemedicine is an effective alternative to in-office visits. They are often more convenient with patients with chronic illnesses and can reduce the risk of pandemic exposure. Those with diabetes and other chronic diseases are at increased risk of having more serious complications from COVID-19.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) deemed telemedicine as an essential health service during COVID-19. They point to it as a means to reduce risk but also ensure that patients with chronic conditions continue to have regular visits to manage their illness and ensure medication adherence.
The availability of real-time EHR data can lead to better outcomes for follow-up visits. Providers that integrate their EHR and telemedicine platform may be able to do this even more proficiently.
The ChartLogic EHR tool, one of the first ever, includes a host of robust features to increase access, including data sharing. The platform recently added a telemedicine integration, as well, to better serve providers and their patients.
Explore the solution today and see how it could help you enhance patient outcomes and care continuity.