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3 ways an EHR elevates your inpatient rehab strategy

Leveraging technology for growth

by Steve Herron

Published on 10/7/2022

With the healthcare industry undergoing major regulatory and technological shifts, rehabilitation facilities are faced with expanding challenges. Using multiple data systems and manual processes to address these concerns could result in regulatory compliance issues, incomplete data, and uncoordinated care that can lead to negative patient outcomes.

When Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) incentivized and mandated that acute and ambulatory providers implement electronic health record (EHR) technology, post-acute providers like independent rehab facilities (IRFs) were not included. As a result, many have been left on manual workflows or disjointed systems.

For those that make the transition to an EHR, there are clear benefits. For multiple venue collaboration, having comprehensive tools with patient data within the EHR technology can support clinical, regulatory, and financial requirements. An EHR tailored to rehabilitation that is interoperable can help IRFs have the capability to focus on providing quality care for patients and become the venue of choice for patients and hospitals.

Here are three ways technology can help your IRF tackle your biggest challenges:

  1. Meeting regulatory requirements 
  2. It is important for IRFs to meet regulatory requirements because it solidifies their credibility, helps mitigate risks, and avoids audits that can cause a loss in revenue and even damaged reputation. Mandated CMS assessments like the inpatient rehabilitation facility patient assessment instrument (IRF-PAI) require hundreds of data points for a single assessment and can take hours and hours to complete when done manually through chart reviews. Often technology can help automate these assessments by pulling data that has already been captured in the clinical record, summarizing, and calculating the proper responses, and presenting it to the Prospective Payment System coordinator (PPS) for review prior to submission.  In addition, having tools like this assessment hosted in the cloud can allow software suppliers to deliver required annual regulatory updates so that facilities are not burdened with huge overhauls every time that the regulations change.

  3. Enabling coordinated care
  4. Collaboration between rehabilitation facilities and the acute hospitals where their patients’ care originated is vitally important to delivering quality rehabilitative services. Data shared electronically from the acute facility allows the IRF’s care team to start with an accurate clinical picture of the patient in the pre-admission process, and reconciliation of that data into the record allows the care team to start care more accurately and more timely.

    The timing of things like wound care and medication delivery are critically important during a transition, and when care is delayed because of poor communication, patients are at risk for readmission. Interoperable EHRs can help reduce this gap, giving the patient the best opportunity for recovery.

  5. Recruiting and retaining partners and patients
  6. Referral partnerships are crucial for IRFs to gain new patients and grow revenue. An established IRF with an interoperable EHR is an attractive partner for acute-care hospitals. Interoperable IRFs are more appealing partners because hospitals want to avoid unnecessary acute care transfers. As mentioned before, there can be significant delays in providing care when the data is received on paper or fax and entered manually into the chart, and there are many opportunities for errors. Streamlining the transition of care helps avoid these delays. In addition, facilities with advanced solutions can utilize their EHR data to recognize patients that are at risk and intervene to prevent costly unnecessary transfers.

Whether your rehabilitation facility currently has multiple systems or is struggling with inaccurate data, these three considerations can help close the gaps so you can focus on what really matters—your patients. 

Learn more about Rehabilitation Solutions.