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Electronic Health Records (EHR) are now mandated for physician offices and hospitals if they bill Medicare or Medicaid. Though not yet mandated for Long Term Post-acute Care (LTPAC) providers, many nursing homes and home health agencies are taking advantage of using electronic records. Electronic Health Records can be an important tool for improving care transitions.

The Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Care Record (EHR) Incentive Programs provide incentive payments to eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) as they adopt, implement, upgrade or demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology. You can read about these incentive programs at the CMS web site.

In the United States, Electronic Health Records must comply with privacy and security standards set by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Electronic Health Records can be exchanged between healthcare providers through a Health Information Exchange (HIE).

To be an EHR (from “One of the key features of an EHR is that it can be created, managed, and consulted by authorized providers and staff across more than one health care organization. A single EHR can bring together information from current and past doctors, emergency facilities, school and workplace clinics, pharmacies, laboratories, and medical imaging facilities.”

If your current system of documentation is paper-based and/or your submission of required information for Minimum Data Set (MDS) or Outcome and Assessment Information Set (OASIS) are met by data entry into a secure online system, this is not a true EHR. Many LTPAC providers have implemented an Electronic Medical Record, a digital version of the paper charts to track patients medical and treatment history. However, EHR and EMR are different. You can read more about the difference at

Beginning to Learn about Electronic Health Records

For organizations looking into adopting EHRs, LeadingAge is at the forefront of innovation to transform how the aging population is served, including those in Nursing Homes and other settings.  Members include not-for-profit organizations, consumer organizations, state partners, research partners, businesses, and others. The LeadingAge’s Center for Aging Services Technologies (CAST) contains tools and resources for learning more about selecting an EHR.

To assist with starting your selection of an EHR, see the LeadingAge white paper (2016), EHR for Long-term and Post-acute Care, A Primer on planning and Vendor Selection, available at: h

LeadingAge offers an online EHR Selection Tool at Registration is required to access that tool.

Among others, Stratis Health has developed a toolkit to help providers adopt health information technology. They work with nursing homes on quality improvement and patient safety that may assist organizations looking to adopt or change EHR Solutions.  The Stratis Health toolkit also provides assistance to help you prepare and work with staff members when changing systems. The Stratis Health toolkit is available at:

Changing EHR Solutions

Your company may have previously implemented an EHR, but are now in the process of changing EHR solutions. Many companies find themselves looking at systems that would provide updated capabilities as vendors grow capacity in their system and the country moves toward sophisticated electronic health systems and information exchange.

EHR Certification

Although not required, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has established a Health Information Technology (HIT) program for LTPAC EHRs. Certification criteria published by the Certification Commission for HIT is used by leading LTPAC EHR vendors to successfully meet certification requirements.

ONC provides a Certified Health IT Product List, which includes a list of Certified EHR systems, at: http://chpl.healthit.govL

Keywords: EHR, electronic health record, EMR, electronic medical record, HIT, certification, ONC, Office of the National Coordinator, LeadingAge, CAST, Stratis Health, LTPAC, HIT, health information technology, roadmap

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