Talking Technology: LTPAC Health IT Summit Highlights Promising Trends
July 18, 2018 | by Gene Mitchell
The 2018 Long Term & Post-Acute Care (LTPAC) Health IT Summit brought together providers, technologists, industry, regulators and payers, and left optimism in its wake.
This year’s Long Term & Post-Acute Care (LTPAC) Health IT Summit, held in June in Washington, DC, was notable for several reasons. First, while LeadingAge’s Center for Aging Services Technologies (CAST) has been involved in LTPAC summits for years, this was its first year as the convener. The summit also attracted considerably more attendees (about 250) than past summits, and brought in experts from sectors that had not been well-represented in the past.
We asked Majd Alwan, Ph.D., senior vice president of technology for LeadingAge and executive director of CAST, for his thoughts on the significance of this year’s summit.
LeadingAge: Why did LeadingAge take such a forward role in organizing this year’s LTPAC conference?
Majd Alwan: The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) has convened the summit over the past few years, but it was starting to lose attendance, and we felt we need a new vision, a new convener and a new direction.
We have always felt strongly about the value of the summit, as the only true leadership meeting that brought [together] the whole spectrum of long-term and post-acute care providers from both the for-profit and nonprofit sides. Participants are members of more than 12 different sector-wide associations, together with health IT vendors, technology developers, consultants, academicians and government representatives. It is a valuable forum to discuss:
- The role of technology in general, and health IT in particular, in improving care and reducing costs.
- Initiatives that accelerate the development of standards.
- Adoption of appropriate health IT in our sector, including interoperability solutions.
- How we can engage our sector in information exchange for the benefits of the people we serve.
When AHIMA expressed interest in transferring the summit convener role, we did not think twice about jumping on this opportunity. Our partner associations on the LTPAC Health IT Collaborative were happy to see the summit continue, and expressed continued support for it under LeadingAge’s leadership.
LeadingAge: This year’s summit also featured an expanded roster of expert speakers, including some from sectors that may not have been well-represented in the past. Why is this significant?
Majd Alwan: While past summits were generally successful, in the last couple of years it started feeling like we were preaching to our own choir! We made some progress, especially on standards development and on leveraging the wave of interest in health IT created by CMS’ electronic health record (EHR) adoption incentives to eligible hospitals and physicians. We also helped to drive EHR adoption in our sector, and successfully made our sector’s voice heard by government. Even so, we had not made significant progress on:
- Making the business case for health IT in our sector, and showing the value of health IT to our members.
- Engaging our members in health information exchange with acute care providers or payers.
- Showing the value of technology-enabled long-term and post-acute care providers across the spectrum to other important stakeholders in the health care and health IT ecosystems, namely acute care (hospitals, physicians and ACOs) and payers (not only CMS but also managed care plans and even long-term care insurance providers).
- Ensuring that our providers get incentivized and rewarded for: investing in technologies and processes that improve prevention, care planning and care coordination; reducing hospitalizations, institutionalizations, readmissions and cost to payers; and improving outcomes, quality of life and quality of care for our growing older adult population.
We were convinced that the only way to achieve these goals was to engage new stakeholders. These included acute-care EHR vendors to create opportunities for collaboration on interoperability and outside-the-box information exchange solutions, along with acute care providers to better understand each other’s needs for data and processes, especially around shared care planning and transitions of care. It also included payers, to gain their support for promising efforts that would be beneficial to everyone, and to create partnership opportunities on payment models to sustain such efforts.
I believe having these stakeholders that we have not targeted before would also naturally lead to more ecosystem-wide collaboration and partnership opportunities, not only regarding technical solutions, but also business opportunities that may not otherwise develop without the interaction at the summit.
LeadingAge: What, in your opinion, were the most important takeaways from the conference?
Majd Alwan: The most notable takeaways from the summit were:
- The interest in technology, data, knowledge that can help turn data into information, and analytics is high and on the rise among our providers—including LTPAC providers—and is spurring strategic investments and enabling strategic partnerships.
- The value of the whole long-term and post-acute care spectrum in emerging, innovative and alternative payment models and the future of health care is clear and gaining prominence in the eyes of regulators, payers and acute care partners. This is especially true for technology-enabled LTPAC providers who can contribute, exchange and use information effectively and in a timely manner.
- We have the right building blocks to support interoperability and health information exchange, and see unprecedented willingness from acute care providers and their health IT vendors to support cross-sector exchanges. We just need to actively pursue connectivity, seek to make it affordable, and push for payment models that not only rely on it, but also incentivize all parties. The latter must include LTPAC providers, who have been somewhat left out of the incentives for EHR adoption and left out of alternative payment models.
- There are encouraging signs of flexibility from regulators regarding restrictions on managed care, including social support services and telehealth, for example.
- I feel that among payers, especially the private-pay managed care plans, there is increasing interest in partnerships with providers on innovation and on incentive and payment models that leverage technology capabilities, data and information.
- There is renewed interest in our sector in working together on advancing concepts like integrated care, long-term care financing, and demonstrations of technology-enabled care, like telehealth and telemedicine.
I left energized, enthused and optimistic about the progress, and look forward to reconnecting with those who expressed interest in advancing these issues collaboratively.
LeadingAge: A recurring theme of past summits has been how LTPAC providers can gain a significant place at the table with the major players in the acute-care, insurance and integrated care fields. Are we making progress, and are those players learning the value of LTPAC providers?
Majd Alwan: We certainly are, but we could and should do better. We have bright examples of LTPAC providers exploring innovative partnerships with acute care, payers, and information exchange intermediaries. These include Genesis Healthcare, a collaborative of providers in Missouri, Metropolitan Jewish Health System (MJHS), Landis Homes in Pennsylvania, Ingleside in the DC metro area, and more. However, we need to push for more regional, statewide, and ultimately nationwide efforts. That requires providers to cultivate relationships with other providers, to create provider consortiums (especially involving smaller ones), to have conversations with vendors and potential partners, and to create mutually respectful partnerships. That will take time, but it is surely coming.
LeadingAge: When and where will the next Summit be held? How would you like to see it build on previous ones?
Majd Alwan: The next Summit will be held June 23-25 in the broader DC metro area, likely Baltimore, MD.
We will build on this year’s success and continue to try to attract and engage more payers, acute care providers and others interested in technology, business and payment model innovations in integrated services for older adults, partnership opportunities, and advocacy to make these innovations adopted, accessible and benefitting a broader segment of the growing older adult population.
We’re considering rebranding and changing the name of the Summit; we will announce the name soon, but your interested readers can mark their calendars for now.
Gene Mitchell is editor of LeadingAge magazine.