Health IT should include long-term care, coalition says

Long-term care lags in health IT

A coalition of health care groups has released a report recommending that long-term care be part of health information technology activities that are under way nationwide.

This month’s report from 14 organizations, coordinated by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), asks that long-term care be considered at each step of a national health information network’s development.

The report, “A Road Map for Health IT in Long Term Care,” lists the issues attendees identified at the Long-Term Care Health IT Summit in August 2005 in Chicago. A second summit is planned for late spring.

The 12-page report does not call for specific actions by government agencies or national organizations. Instead, it promotes advocacy activities to raise awareness of the need for extending health IT to nursing homes and other long-term care providers.

Although the elderly account for a substantial portion of the nation’s health care expenditures, most of the initiatives that have begun in the past several years focus on hospital and outpatient health care. The coalition is particularly interested in technology that would enable providers to transfer records to one another and to nursing homes, because many elderly people receive treatment in multiple settings.

Long-term care should be considered during the creation of financial incentives for using health IT, development and enhancement of IT standards and datasets, establishment of electronic prescription systems, certification of health IT products, and general health care quality initiatives, the report states.

The coalition’s first steps will include establishing a more formal organization, according to a news release from AHIMA.

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