Patrick-Murray Administration Announces 15 Worcester County Health Care Organizations to Pilot Information Technology Program to Improve Patient Care

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Initiative will enhance coordination between providers and ensure safer, more efficient care

WORCESTER – Wednesday, November 30, 2011 – The Patrick-Murray Administration announced today that 15 health care organizations in Worcester County will participate in a new pilot program that will support the seamless electronic transfer of clinical information for patients transitioning between hospitals, nursing homes and home care. As part of the Improving Massachusetts Post-Acute Care Transfers (IMPACT) project, these central Massachusetts providers will pilot a new electronic version of the state’s Universal Transfer Form, which provides key health data to coordinate care for patients making the transition from one clinical setting to another.

Earlier this year, Massachusetts received $1.7 million in federal stimulus funding to develop the IMPACT project. The Massachusetts eHealth Institute (MeHI), a division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, is leading the state’s health information technology efforts.

“Massachusetts has made it a priority to advance health information technologies to improve the quality and safety of health care for residents in the Commonwealth,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. “As a national leader in health care reform, we are moving forward with launching this pilot initiative in Worcester County that will lead to lower costs and better care for residents across the state.”

“Health information exchanges and other innovative technologies contribute to higher quality care for patients,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby. “Providing more efficient and coordinated care through the integration of services is an important outcome of the state’s Health Information Technology plan.”

“Massachusetts led the nation on health reform, and this investment will help us lead again when it comes to modernizing medical records through key health information exchanges,” said Senator John Kerry. “Better technology and more efficient record keeping means fewer medical errors and better access to quality care.”

“Information technology holds tremendous promise in terms of improving patient care and containing health care costs,” Representative James McGovern said. “Massachusetts can and should be a leader in this emerging field, and I'm pleased to see these federal health care funds directed to Worcester County.”

The following health care organizations will participate in IMPACT:

Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center, Westborough
Christopher House of Worcester
Fairlawn Rehabilitation Hospital, Worcester
Family Health Center of Worcester
Holy Trinity Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Worcester
Jewish Healthcare Center, Worcester
Life Care Center of Auburn
Millbury Healthcare Center
Notre Dame Long Term Care Center, Worcester
Overlook Visiting Nurses Association
Radius Healthcare Center Worcester
Reliant Medical Group (formerly known as Fallon Clinic), Worcester
Saint Vincent Hospital, Worcester
UMass Memorial Health Care, Worcester
VNA Care Network and Hospice, Worcester

These 15 healthcare organizations will first pilot and validate a paper Universal Transfer Form over the next four months, followed by the electronic version of the form next year. Developed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Universal Transfer Form is critical to ensure that patients receive safer, more efficient and a higher quality of health care when making the transition between acute care and post-acute care settings. The form is critical to ensure that patients receive safer, more efficient and a higher quality of health care when making the transition between acute care and post-acute care settings.

The Universal Transfer Form contains key patient health data, including medication lists, advance directives, treatment plans, and other data that enable a seamless transition for a patient moving from one health care setting to another. The IMPACT pilot initiative will create a system for information exchange between health care providers that allows organizations with electronic health record (EHR) systems and those without EHRs to efficiently and securely share information about their patients electronically.

Tools to view, update and send the electronic Universal Transfer Form will be added to the state’s forthcoming health information exchange network. Tools will also be developed to translate the form into a language and format that’s easier for patients to understand. The IMPACT project is working with national data standards efforts to ensure that these tools can be disseminated seamlessly throughout Massachusetts and the rest of the country.

“The adoption of health information technology strengthens our health care delivery system and supports economic growth across the state,” said Pamela Goldberg, CEO of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. “MTC/MeHI is advancing e-health technologies to provide safer and more effective care for Massachusetts residents.”

“This advancement in health information technology is critical to support better coordination among providers, and will greatly benefit patients who are making transitions between health care facilities and home care,” said Rick Shoup, Ph.D., State HIT Coordinator and Director of the Massachusetts eHealth Institute.

Dr. Larry Garber, Medical Director for Informatics at Reliant Medical Group (formerly known as Fallon Clinic) and Principal Investigator for IMPACT, said, “The beauty of this system is that it leverages information already collected electronically in EHRs and patient assessment tools in order to minimize rework or having patients tell their medical history over and over again. It also guarantees timely delivery of all of the necessary information to the next provider of care. It’s good for our patients, and it’s good for physicians and their staff.”

“We are honored to have been chosen as a pilot facility,” said Mark Presutti, Executive Director at Life Care Center of Auburn, a skilled nursing and rehab facility. “This program should make the health care process smoother for all those involved – whether in nursing homes, hospitals or other health entities. It is so vital for each of us to be on the same page in making health decisions for patients.”

Paul O’Connell, Administrator for the Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center in Westborough, echoes those sentiments. “We are excited to be working with the IMPACT project on strategic planning to provide efficient and cost effective services along the continuum of care,” O’Connell said. The enhanced communication among service providers included in the IMPACT project will ultimately benefit the patient, control expenses and establish standards that will become the hallmark for healthcare in the future.”

In June 2011, thirty-one (31) health care organizations participating in Worcester’s State Action on Avoidable Rehospitalizations (STAAR) Initiatives and other efforts to improve the transition of care, attended a “Worcester Galaxy” meeting. This meeting established a learning collaborative that will help improve and implement IMPACT’s tools throughout Worcester County following the pilot sites. Similar Galaxies and learning collaboratives will convene in communities throughout the state over the next few years in order to engage health care providers across the continuum of care, and allow for the development of best practices regarding documentation, communication, patient education and other processes to ensure safe and successful transitions for all patients.