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Interoperability was the focus of another recent Provider roundtable in Las Vegas, in which long term and post-acute care executives gathered to discuss issues of concern and share successes with regard to health information technology (HIT) in the sector. 

Participants discussed how emerging technologies are impacting the full spectrum of the aging services continuum, with particular emphasis on assisted living and nursing home care.

Sponsored by PointClickCare, the event was well-attended by owners and operators who had much to say about electronic medication administration records (eMars), electronic health records, pharmacy integration, and physician engagement.

For Bartley Healthcare in Jackson, N.J., Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Phil Scalo said he works closely with local hospital systems, and his concerns with interoperability stem from being able to connect with them seamlessly.

“It’s not easy to do,” he said, “but it would save us a lot of time” to have that ability.

Don Pellegrino, who owns two skilled nursing and two assisted living centers in New Jersey, has also been active with local hospitals.

“We are a provider they are looking to because we are very progressive, and we have mobile devices,” he said. “Trying to get the hospitals to integrate with our systems has been a bit of a challenge.”

Ralph Marrinson, president and CEO of Marrinson Senior Care Residences, noted his frustration with not being able to get his pharmacy provider to integrate with his communities.

“We now have an integrated system,” he said, and the benefits are multiple, including saving time, greater efficiencies, and “closing the gap of errors.”

Marrinson, who has been in the business for just under 50 years, believes that providers have an opportunity with technology to be leaders. “The more we can advance in technology, the more we can show we are frontline players in health care, the better our industry will be.”

Dave Wessinger, co-founder and chief technology officer of PointClickCare, offered his perspective on the trials and tribulations of HIT interoperability.

Pharmacy integration, he said, has been one of the “most active conversations in any opportunity that we have. It’s a much heavier lift than people think.”

If a pharmacy provider is using a proprietary system, it is very unlikely it will ever get integrated, he said. His advice: Find a pharmacy that’s on a system that is designed to integrate.

Wessinger and other participants agreed that when it comes to implementing everything from eMars and pharmacy records to physician order systems, change management is critical.

Others expressed concern about getting doctors to buy into new systems and the importance of buy-in from staff.