Reaching the Paperless Tipping Point

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Karen Utterback By Karen Utterback 
Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, McKesson

Home Health Agencies Paperless Tipping PointExpense and complexity kept some home health agencies from becoming early adopters of electronic health records. But we seem to have reached a tipping point where those holding onto paper records are lagging the rest of the industry.

In May, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that 28% of home health and hospice care agencies had adopted both electronic health records and mobile technology in 2007. Another 16% adopted just electronic health records (not mobile).

Presumably, those numbers have risen considerably since then. The government does not have more recent figures specific to home care and hospice, but data on other areas of healthcare supports the tipping point theory. In July, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced that the proportion of hospitals with at least a basic EHR has almost tripled since 2010, when healthcare providers began receiving federal funding for EHR adoption.

The foundation said healthcare providers are also connecting their EHRs with HIT partnerships in their communities at a faster rate, with 27% of hospitals participating in health information exchange (HIE) initiatives, up from 14% in 2010.

At least one finding from the foundation report could have significance for home health providers, giving them incentive to get or stay ahead of the curve. Researchers found that many providers aren’t yet using home health software or other technology to develop effective patient education tools that track progress and meaningfully engage patients.

An LA Times interview with Michael Painter, senior program office with RWJ Foundation, clarified the findings, noting that few hospitals can share records with other hospitals to reduce test duplication and that more should be done to use the technology to improve care quality and safety.

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