Over the last 50 years, Netsmart has been recognized as a leader in electronic health records (EHR), integration and automation for the behavioral health and social services communities. Over the last two years, I’ve often been asked, why did we decide to bring that experience and expertise to post-acute providers?

There are quite a few reasons why we decided to move into the post-acute community. On the surface, behavioral health, post-acute and social services communities may seem completely different, but in reality have a lot in common.

This past summer we had the opportunity to host an event in which our clients came together from different communities, including skilled nursing, behavioral health, home health and hospice. At the beginning of the event, they all assumed they had little in common, but once they began to engage in dialogue with each other, they saw first-hand that they were all attempting to solve similar challenges and capture very similar opportunities. Because we directly serve all of these markets, we know that the solutions required to be successful in the future are very similar; and as the healthcare landscape and requirements change, others are beginning to see it as well.

The communities we serve have a strong need, and financial incentive, to connect with traditional care venues such as health systems and physician offices. They are all key players and leaders in care coordination with a highly mobile workforce that must comply with exceedingly complex regulatory and reimbursement requirements. In addition, our communities operate on a different margin profile than acute-care providers, where care models tend to be episodic versus ongoing.

EHRs made for health systems don’t work for the unique needs of behavioral health or post-acute providers. That’s why we’ve built a platform that enables integration and information sharing between all of these organizations and traditional healthcare systems, so that providers have access to actionable information.

Studies show that nearly 20 percent of the adult population experiences both mental and medical co-morbid conditions. Nearly 35 percent of residents of long-term care facilities may experience either major depression or clinically significant depressive symptoms. While patients who have a chronic medical condition have significantly more ambulatory visits, emergency room visits, days in bed due to illness and functional disability. These things all add up to longer length-of-stays and increased costs to provider organizations.

Because of these reasons, our clients need to be able to integrate with each other in response to payment reform, i.e. value-based care and bundled payments. In a value-based care world, post-acute providers are going to be required to take a more active role as a healthcare ecosystem player. They will now share in the financial responsibility to keep people healthy and out of high-acuity care.

Some post-acute organizations will take the lead and be responsible for coordinating the performance of a variety of providers (both owned and affiliated) to deliver care with specific and targeted outcomes. Other post-acute providers will be participants in this model of care and if they lack basic EHR and connectivity functionality, won’t be able to participate. Payers and health systems are looking for leaders to aggregate care that addresses the needs of a community … outside of the four walls of a health system. Post-acute providers who are already connected will be able to step into this role and lead the way.

Providers who can prove they are able to coordinate care across communities, and manage the complexity and outcomes of these community-based services, are going to be well positioned for success—and in high demand—in a value-based care world. Payers have been one of the first to acknowledge this need and it’s evident by the multitude of recent acquisitions to enter community-based services. We believe this trend is only going to accelerate as the need to drive better outcomes at lower costs gains more support from the reimbursement model reform.

Post-acute providers must have a platform that meets each community’s unique needs. Not only have we developed integrated care records for behavioral health, we’ve innovated surrounding solutions and services with an eye on the needs of long-term care, home care, hospice and other communities.

The needs of these providers to connect to their partners and automate the exchange of data requires analytics to be built into the workflow to understand and identify the patients most at risk, and to better understand outcomes and the cost of care. Consumer engagement is another important component in providing care; but providers need to go beyond the single consumer and include families as well as other caregivers. We are the only single post-acute technology provider who can deliver all of these solutions and services today – when they are needed.

If you’ve been following our post-acute story over the last two years, you know that we’ve taken significant, yet deliberate, steps to uniquely position ourselves and our clients for success. Our process has added deep domain knowledge to our team that is needed to move at the speed at which healthcare is consistently changing.

  • In 2016, we announced a new venture to merge Allscripts Homecare with our existing suite of solutions and services. Since then, we’ve been working alongside the largest providers in the country to develop and deliver a cloud-based technology platform that takes hospice care to the next level.
  • Later that year, we acquired HealthMEDX, an EHR provider for long-term and post-acute care providers. With the modern architecture from HealthMEDX, we’ve expanded the communities we serve to include assisted living, memory care, adult day care, independent living, skilled nursing and continuing care retirement communities.
  • And finally, our latest addition to the family was this past summer with DeVero, a cloud-based home health and hospice solution that is scalable, easy to roll-out and provides more efficient staff on-boarding and training.

Ultimately, it’s all about continuity of care and whole-person care. Having the right EHR system and partner to help maintain it all is the key to success. At Netsmart we have all of the building blocks in place to launch a new converged platform that will represent the new standard for the post-acute community. More on that to come over the next few months.

Simply put, our unique experience and background is what gives us the knowledge and expertise to blaze a new trail for a truly integrated system, inclusive of physical health, mental health and social determinants. We never create a solution in a lab and roll it out to our clients. Our approach is to work side-by-side with our client partners to develop and deploy solutions that work in the real-world with real-life roles and workflows. We work with our more than 560,000 users in more than 25,000 organizations every day to build solutions that solve their unique challenges.

We’re in it for the long-haul. History has shown that we have the scalability and proven track record to sustain significant investments in creating new platforms. As healthcare continues to evolve, we are confident that together with our clients, we’ll set the pace to meet and exceed industry needs, while staying true to the collective mission of achieving integration between all healthcare communities.