Building a digital bridge between hospitals and LTC
August 31, 2020
As COVID-19 amplifies the need for collaboration among healthcare providers, a unique partnership is creating a digital link between St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton (SJHH) and St. Joseph’s Villa in Hamilton, Ont., to enhance the health outcomes of older adults transferred between hospital and long-term care (LTC).
By implementing Harmony by PointClickCare, an integrated platform, acute care teams will be able to send electronic medical information directly to LTC teams – in real-time. The same will be true in reverse for residents of an LTC home going into hospital.
“The project will enable two-way computerized exchange of clinical information making discharge from hospital faster, helping to reduce readmissions, and potentially preventing some admissions,” said Dr. Dan Perri, chief medical information officer at SJHH.
“As the number of baby boomers needing LTC facilities is expected to reach a record high, the benefits move beyond COVID-19. This data exchange could keep older adults safe, and out of hospital, longer.”
Healthcare systems use electronic health record (EHR) platforms that best meet the needs of their organization. At SJHH, Epic (Dovetale) supports the hospital’s acute and ambulatory care programs, while PointClickCare, which is designed to support LTC facilities, is used at St. Joseph’s Villa.
In the past, when a patient was discharged from hospital to LTC, or a resident returns to a care home after a hospital visit, printed or faxed documentation was used in the transfer of care. As a result, clinicians lacked quick access to medical histories from the LTC home, and LTC staff would manually input clinical data into a resident’s electronic records.
In integrating the two systems, Harmony will run in collaboration with Epic’s Care Everywhere platform. By reconciling medical record numbers in hospital with PointClickCare’s counterpart in the care home, healthcare providers on both sides of a care scenario will be able to view outside information within an individual’s medical chart.
Up-to-date data will allow clinicians to know exactly what medication the patient is taking, and the right dosage and frequency – curbing potential delays in treatment and errors in care.
“Transitions between LTC and hospitals have the potential for poor communication and medication errors that can hurt older adults,” said Dr. Hugh Boyd, medical director at St. Joseph’s Villa. “This integration will eliminate clinicians wasting time sorting through fragmented data and allow more time to focus on caring for patients. It will save time and lives.”
Throughout the project, SJHH is working collaboratively with PointClickCare to ensure the integration’s infrastructure is resilient in maintaining cyber-security.
“Protecting personal health information is an important component of any data integration project,” said Tara Coxon, chief information officer at SJHH. “To safeguard the solution, our teams are thoroughly assessing vendor threats and privacy risks to ensure the integration’s architecture has the right mechanisms in place to address potential failures.”
The team will test the integration’s functionality to ensure the right information populates the right medical chart sections in the process. Testing will match demographic data, including an individual’s name, address, and health card information, as well as the accurate transfer of clinical history.
The team will use baseline metrics to evaluate efficiencies in workflows and health outcomes to gauge the project’s success. Once the benefits of the commercialization pilot projects are known, the hope is the solution will expand to other LTC homes using PointClickCare’s EHR platform.