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Bridging Gaps in Care

March 8, 2012
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Quality improvement experts and IT vendors as a care transition team

One of the most persistent problems in healthcare is care transitions between sites of care. Unfortunately, patients who find themselves caught in that gap don’t have a lot of support. That’s the view of Pat Rutherford, R.N., vice president of the Institute for Healthcare Improvements in Cambridge, Mass.

In a recent interview, Rutherford said the healthcare industry has done a good job of raising the awareness of the need for better care transitions, but there is still a long way to go in making major breakthroughs. She sees a need for better partnerships between IT vendors and quality improvement experts, who, she says, “are good at process improvements.”

IT vendors, in her view, have a major challenge when it comes to care transitions, because they are trying to implement architecture and infrastructure of system-wide processes in a fragmented healthcare system. “You have cross-vendor and cross-regional problems and interfaces between different platforms,” she said. “There are myriad problems that vendors are facing because healthcare is fragmented.”

Rutherford doesn’t think there is any low hanging fruit when it comes to solving the problems in care transitions, but she thinks that quality experts and IT vendors can co-design products that better bridge the gaps in care transitions.

She says quality improvement experts, who are good at process improvements, have a lot to offer IT vendors. They can help co-design products that can bridge the care transition gap by paying close attention to the users, whether they are patients or caregivers, and adapting their feedback into their product development. “What problems does the patient have using it? What problems do the primary care provider and the office practice have using it? Does it fit into their workflow?” she asks.

Over the long haul, it’s a partnership that can lead to a more cohesive plan of care that would allow sites of care to work together, she said.

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