Brightree by ResMed (“Brightree”), a cloud-based management software platform for healthcare providers, has conducted its biannual interoperability survey, and issued its corresponding biannual Interoperability and Engagement Research Report. Most notably, and not surprisingly, 99% of the 400+ provider entities that were surveyed, said they are most likely to send patient referrals for post-acute care (PAC) providers who are able to support interoperability needs. Interoperability capabilities may include:

  • Sending/accepting electronic referrals;
  • An established electronic health records (EHR) system and maintenance of same; and 
  • Payor portals.

This 99% figure is a twenty-five percent increase from 2021 (74%), in the middle of the public health emergency (PHE), and a thirty-nine percent increase from 2019 (60%), before the PHE had even begun. As the PHE is now expired as of May 11, 2023, it is understandable why providers consider interoperability to be (essentially) a requirement for those facilities to which they refer patients. Thanks to legislative omissions, only 84% of nursing homes have adopted health information technology, and 60% don’t have the ability to share data with healthcare providers. Interestingly, though, while PAC providers are well aware of how vital interoperability is to not only patient care but also to the volume of referrals received, Brightree found that only 39% of PAC providers have made the strategic changes that would make them more desirable PAC care for providers.  

This low rate of change is mostly due to financial and workforce constraints, including lack of money, lack of time to focus on interoperability advancement, and lack of knowledge about interoperability systems’ functions and capabilities. Fortunately, these same facilities are looking to make a change in the near future:

  • 79% of skilled nursing facilities (SNF) facilities have indicated that they plan to invest in more advanced interoperability capabilities, with 50% planning to make this change within the next 12 months;
  • 50% of home medical equipment (HME) providers and pharmacies said they are planning to implement new interoperability capabilities; and
  • 98% of PAC said that they are aware that interoperability is important to their referral sources.

Brightree’s survey results indicate that nearly all PACs and providers surveyed are very clear that interoperability capabilities are of vital importance to patient care and referrals for same. Ideally, this will manifest in increased interoperability capabilities nationwide—the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has committed to transitioning to value-based arrangements by 2030.