It seems so obvious: Every player in the care delivery system should get the right information about the right patient at the right time. Historically, that's been the exception, not the rule. We all have a horror story about a family member, friend or other loved one falling through the cracks somewhere along the care continuum. Perhaps a medical record didn't get transferred in time, or at all. Maybe discharge instructions to family caregivers weren't clear. And let's not forget the diabetic patient who routinely forgets to upload weight and blood glucose levels to his care team.
With the industry marching toward a new delivery model, these cracks need to be — and in some case, are being — filled. As regular H&HN Daily contributor John Glaser pointed out last April, ensuring tight connections between all parts of the care continuum is an essential building block for accountable care. The same can surely be said for other reforms that are under way, from bundled payments and even payment penalties to evolving models of clinical integration and everything in between.
Health information technology will play a central role in this process. As a 2010 report from the National Transitions of Care Coalition noted, "There is a significant push to adopt technology solutions to assist in improving communication throughout the health care community, and having HIT that communicates beyond the boundaries of a single institution or health system is critical to improving care transitions in the future. … All members of the health care team — including patients and their family caregivers — need access to key pieces of information in order to make transitions of care smooth, safe and effective."
Because there is so much attention to improving the care continuum, H&HN this month is launching a yearlong, multimedia series entitled "Connecting the Continuum." Supported by AT&T, the series will take a close look at how hospitals and other stakeholders are adopting innovative technologies to improve the flow of vital patient data. And this doesn't just mean sending a medical record from one location to another. No, the series will also examine such topics as mHealth, home monitoring, telemedicine, population health, data analysis and more.
We've tapped frequent contributor John Morrissey to pen the monthly magazine articles. As some of you may recall, John was a top-notch reporter covering the nascent days of health IT for Modern Healthcare for nearly 17 years. During that time, he earned a coveted two-month fellowship in 2004 with ONC. John also spent time working at the now-defunct National Alliance for Health Information Technology and Certification Commission for Health Information Technology. He's been writing for H&HN, and other trade publications, since 2010.
I'll be augmenting John's magazine articles with blogs, podcasts and videocasts in H&HN Daily the second Thursday of every month. We welcome your thoughts, comments and suggestions on the series. We are especially interested in hearing about innovations underway to connect the continuum. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.