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Home Health Clinicians Frequently Lack Access to Hospital Records

FRIDAY, March 8, 2019 -- Communication between hospitals and home health care (HHC) is suboptimal, according to a study published online Feb. 21 in the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

Christine D. Jones, M.D., from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, and colleagues conducted a survey of 50 HHC nurses and staff (managers, administrators, or quality assurance clinicians) at 14 HHC agencies in Colorado (41 percent individual response rate). The authors sought to evaluate the quality of communication between hospitals and HHC clinicians and patient preparedness to receive HHC.

The researchers found that 60 percent of respondents reported receiving insufficient information to guide patient management in HHC and 44 percent reported encountering problems from inadequate patient information. The communication domain most frequently identified as insufficient was related to additional tests recommended by hospital clinicians (58 percent). Patient preparation to receive HHC was perceived as inadequate by 52 percent of respondents, with patients frequently expecting extended-hours caregiving, housekeeping, and transportation assistance, all of which are beyond the scope of HHC. When respondents had electronic health record (EHR) access to referring providers, they were less likely to encounter problems related to a lack of information (27 percent versus 57 percent without EHR access) and were more likely to have sufficient information about medications and contact isolation.

"Future interventions to improve communication between the hospital and HHC should aim to improve preparation of patients and caregivers to ensure they know what to expect from HHC and to provide access to EHR information for HHC agencies," Jones said in a statement.

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Posted: March 2019

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