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5 tips on closing care gaps

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Collaboration and electronic health record (EHR) interoperability are key factors in closing the care gap that exists among healthcare providers. Sharing information, in real-time, about a patient’s diagnosis and treatment plan can be crucial to a quality outcome for that patient. A recent report, Closing Gaps in Care through Health Data Exchange, points out that providers “are unable to efficiently identify patients in need of healthcare services or deliver services according to evidence-based guidelines in a timely manner.”

The report is the result of mixed methods qualitative research conducted by the Louis W. Sullivan Institute for Healthcare Innovation, in close collaboration with GE Healthcare. It “provides an overview of current approaches, best practices, emerging opportunities and barriers to identifying, preventing and closing gaps in care through data exchange via health information technologies.”

Emphasizing the need to close care gaps, which are defined as “the discrepancy between evidence-based recommendations or best practices and the care that is actually delivered,” the Sullivan Institute report points out the following five tips:

  1. Greater education and communication are needed to raise awareness among stakeholders, particularly providers, about the value of identifying and closing gaps in care.
  2. Gaps in care can threaten the performance of healthcare organizations.
  3. Gaps in care programs have had a positive impact and seem to produce a high return on investment.
  4. Consensus is needed to develop and standardize quality measures and methodologies for information exchange among health plans, providers and patients in an actionable manner. The report also stipulated that additional key technical barriers to exchanging gaps in care information include the provenance, quality, completeness, timeliness, transparency and accuracy of data.
  5. Addressing gaps in care is a critical issue for stakeholders that grows in importance as value-based care efforts mature and health insurance coverage access and care increase.