Some more sophisticated, future-thinking hospitals care about interoperable electronic health records (EHRs). Traditionally, nursing center and hospital EHRs are designed to measure and collect different data. However, “Information must be able to transfer electronically between settings and practitioners. We need to make sure that information travels with patients through different sites of care,” says Dheeraj Mahajan, MD, of Chicago Internal Medicine Practice and Research. “This is a top goal for CMS [the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services].”

While hospitals don’t necessarily expect nursing centers to have telemedicine capabilities, it can be a selling point—especially in rural areas or areas where specialists such as cardiologists and neurologists are in short supply.

“Telehealth is something that hospitals are using,” Joanna Hiatt Kim at the American Hospital Association points out.

Depending on the hospital and the demographics of the region, the ability to provide telemedicine can add value to a nursing center’s relationships with hospitals. Nonetheless, “Telemedicine is an expensive proposition in the post-acute and long term care space. You need the right population to support it,” says Jason Heffernan, MD, of West Coast TeamHealth.

The good news is that CMS has begun to embrace telemedicine. To date, a number of covered services—including skilled nursing center subsequent care visits, advance care planning, follow-up visits, annual depression screenings, and caregiver health risk assessments—can be provided via telemedicine.