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Long-term care facilities to receive interoperable EHRs

The federal government is giving a boost to long-term care and other government-funded health care facilities in Texas and nationwide, according to an announcement by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Authorities announced that states would be permitted to request 90 percent enhanced matching funds from CMS to connect to a health information exchange . The program will be beneficial to health care providers and the health exchange networks, and it will lead to stronger long-term care facilities through the enhanced ability to make improved health care decisions.

The main governmental goal is to improve Medicaid-funded services by improving care coordination through the seamless sharing of health care information. Providers will be able to know the medical background of a patient within minutes or even seconds of opening a patient file. The CMS intends to do this by bringing interoperable electronic health records into the mainstream of the Medicaid network of health care providers.

The use of interoperable EHRs in long-term care facilities will enhance greatly the ability of those providers to administer updated, relevant and necessary care to each patient. Interoperability is a term that means the extent to which systems and devices can exchange data and interpret that shared data so that it can be used for a patient's optimum care. Up until now, it would be fair to say that long-term care providers have not had access to interoperable EHRs, meaning that doctors and care providers in those institutions did not have easy access to an individual's prior record of medical treatments.                      

When all physicians are able to access prior medical histories, they can make better treatment decisions. In many long-term care facilities in Texas and throughout the nation, care provided to residents has been tainted by severely limited knowledge of an individual's prior medical history. The quality of care was inferior to care provided with a fully informed medical chart. This enhancement may help those who want to make their long-term care plans with respect to nursing homes and other institutions that accept Medicaid funding.

Source: ehrintelligence.com, "Interoperable EHRs Coming to More Care Facilities, CMS Says", Sara Heath, Mar. 3, 2016

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