How HIT Can Make Care Transitions Safer

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media , October 17, 2011

Bo-Linn was one of several leaders at the event who challenged participants to think big. "We're not radical enough," he said during a panel discussion toward the end of the day. "These are great ideas but that's so last Thursday already ... I don't want a plan, I want action."

Many of the solutions to make care transitions safer already exist, he said--and yet even simple solutions aren't implemented. An elderly woman is discharged and her daughter lives nearby but works during the day? Set them up with Skype, he said. Her house has too many stairs, putting her at risk for a fall? Install a motion detector.

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How do you help ensure the health of an 11-year-old asthma patient who is discharged to a household of smokers? Install air quality monitors and give financial incentives to the adults to maintain good air quality. "In fact, you can make it an automatic payment," he said.

And you can monitor how often and when she uses her inhaler; send text medication reminders to her school nurse.

There is a need to identify the "basic stuff that's not happening today, that's killing people because it's not happening," Farzad Mostashari, MD, national coordinator for health IT, told participants. That could be something as simple as ordering discharge wheelchairs in more timely and efficient manners or creating systems to notify a primary care physician when his or her patient is treated in the ED or admitted to the hospital, he said.

"We can't not move on that."
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