The Massachusetts eHealth Institute (MeHI) announced a new initiative to support the seamless electronic transfer of clinical information for patients who are transitioning between hospitals, nursing homes, and home care. As part of the Improving Massachusetts Post-Acute Care Transfers (IMPACT) project, Massachusetts healthcare organizations will participate in a pilot program to use the new electronic version of the state’s Universal Transfer Form, which provides key health data to coordinate care for patients making the transition from one clinical setting to another.
“Using technology to support integrated services is an important outcome of the state’s health information technology plan,” says Secretary of Health and Human Services JudyAnn Bigby, MD. “This health information exchange will support better coordination among providers, leading to a higher quality of care for patients.”
“The adoption of e-health technologies will improve the coordination of care, creating a safer and more efficient healthcare delivery system to ensure better outcomes for our patients,” says Richard Shoup, PhD, state HIT coordinator and director of the MeHI.
Over 50 healthcare providers and administrators met at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Worcester to discuss the development and implementation of the electronic transfer form through the IMPACT project. The meeting was the first of the “Worcester Galaxy”, which brings together 31 healthcare organizations participating in Worcester’s State Action Avoidable Rehospitalization Initiatives and other initiatives to improve the transition of care. These existing projects share many common goals, including the elimination of unnecessary tests and treatments, and the reduction of healthcare costs. The IMPACT project will leverage the existing work of these initiatives to plan both the design and workflow of the electronic Universal Transfer Form.
“There has been so much effort to make sure that physicians and hospitals use electronic health records, yet the greatest value comes when these records are passed from one physician to the next one caring for that patient” says Larry Garber, MD, medical director for informatics at Fallon Clinic and principal investigator for the IMPACT project. “During these transitions of care are when patients are at greatest risk of harm, but the Worcester Galaxy and IMPACT project will build electronic and personal bridges between healthcare providers in central Massachusetts in order to optimize the care of our patients.”
In February 2011, Massachusetts received $1.7 million in federal stimulus funding to develop the IMPACT project. The electronic Universal Transfer Form will provide an alternative to the current paper form which was developed by the state Department of Public Health and healthcare providers and administrators across the Commonwealth. In addition to implementing an electronic form, the IMPACT project will enable the translation of diagnoses and treatment plans into consumer-friendly language that is easy to understand for patients and families during each transition of care. The project will also establish learning collaboratives throughout the state modeled after the Worcester Galaxy in order to engage healthcare providers across the continuum of care, and allow for the development of best practices regarding documentation, communication, patient education, and other processes to ensure a safe and successful transition for all patients.
Source: Massachusetts Technology Collaborative