Health IT in Hospice Settings Improves Quality of Palliative Care

Health information technology, including electronic health records and telemedicine, is becoming increasingly important in post-acute care as value-based payments emphasize continuity when moving patients from hospitals to post-acute settings. Hospice providers have taken note and are starting to adopt more high-tech solutions for improving reimbursement and as a means of improving patient care, a recent article found.

Telemedicine has been particularly helpful in hospice care, particularly in rural settings where nurses and caregivers may need urgent physician consults.

“Rather than immediately driving 40 miles in the middle of the night, hospices have been able to connect with caregivers via secure Skype-type devices, allowing us to intervene faster. We have seen great results from that,” Cindy Campbell RN, BSN, MHA-Healthcare Informatics, director of operational consulting for Fazzi, Inc., told Hospice News.

Data analytics programs have also proven useful in helping to predict how long an individual might remain in hospice, which caregivers can use to provide comfort care in a patient’s last several days of life, Campbell told Hospice News.

“No one can predict death with certainty, but I think as analytics become more powerful and more accurate we can give our clinicians the tools they need to have flags on their EMR [electronic health record] showing that end of life is likely approaching,” Campbell said.

Hospices are also using technologies such as virtual reality in pediatric hospice settings. One provider detailed in hospice news was St. Joseph Health’s Trinity Kids Care that uses virtual reality technology that simulates activities such as flying into space, battling robots, and swimming with whales.

Mary Butler is associate editor at Journal of AHIMA.

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