Coalition forms healthcare IT work group with eye on reform

By Bernie Monegain
10:21 AM

The National Transitions of Care Coalition has formed the Health Information Technology Work Group to focus on national efforts to develop electronic medical records and HIT exchanges and promote interoperability.

"With HIT now so closely linked to health reform, we see it as a critical component to achieving a more efficient healthcare system and equally important in facilitating smoother transitions in care that ultimately lead to better patient outcomes," said Cheri Lattimer, the NTOCC's project director. "To this end, we have assembled a work group of notable HIT experts from various sectors of the healthcare industry."

Members of the work group are:

* Leah Binder, CEO of The Leapfrog Group;
* H. Edward Davidson, assistant professor of clinical internal medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School and a partner at Insight Therapeutics;
* David Dorr, assistant professor at the Oregon Health and Science University;
* Jean Paul Gagnon, senior director of U.S. policy and strategic advocacy at Sanofi-Aventis U.S.;
* Eva Powell, director of the Health Information Technology Project of The National Partnership for Women and Families;
* William M. Russell, vice president of clinical information at Erickson Retirement Communities;
* Annette Schmidt, director of external affairs at Sanofi-Aventis U.S.; and
* Charles Smith, CEO of CIGNA.

The work group will begin a number of activities, including assessing the barriers and gaps in health information technology related to transitions of care and developing a white paper to provide recommendations on how to close gaps or remove barriers.

The Advisory Task Force reaffirmed its consensus on seven considerations for improving transitions. The coalition is looking to build awareness among legislators and policymakers to make the following principles part of healthcare reform:

* Improve communication during transitions between providers, patients and caregivers;
* Implement electronic medical records that include standardized medication reconciliation elements;
* Establish points of accountability for sending and receiving care, particularly for hospitalists, SNFists (physicians practicing in skilled nursing facilities), primary care physicians and specialists;
* Increase the use of case management and professional care coordination;
* Expand the role of the pharmacist in transitions of care;
* Implement payment systems that align incentives; and
* Develop performance measures to encourage better transitions of care.

Transitions of care include situations in which a patient moves from primary care to specialty physicians or moves within the hospital, including from the emergency department to other departments, such as surgery or intensive care, It also includes when a patient is discharged from the hospital and goes home or to an assisted living or skilled nursing facility.

NTOCC, which was formed in 2006 to address problems associated with patient transitions, is chaired and coordinated by the Case Management Society of America in partnership with and with financial support from pharmaceutical firm Sanofi-Aventis, U.S.

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