Texas treatment center ties EHR to data-tracking tech to slash addiction relapses

March 25, 2016   Bill Siwicki

As published in Healthcare IT News by Bill Siwicki,

Substance use disorder treatment centers are notoriously behind in technology, but Kemah Palms Recovery has implemented the tracking tech and an EHR to improve outcomes and report value.


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said earlier this month that it will match up to 90 percent of funds facilities not eligible for meaningful use spend on interoperable technology. Kemah Palms Recovery, one such facility, has already started using data-tracking tools to better understand outcomes and ultimately reduce relapses.

The nascent CMS initiative intends to help bridge an information-sharing gap in Medicaid to connect a broader variety of providers, namely long-term care, behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment centers, to a health information exchange.

That additional funding, in turn, will help sustain health information exchanges and lead to increased connectivity among Medicaid providers, CMS said.

To that end, Kemah Palms, a substance use disorder treatment center in Texas, implemented software from MAP Health Management, a vendor that specializes in technology and services for substance use disorder treatment centers as well as telehealth technology.

Kemah Palms sought the software with the aims of improving treatment outcomes and thus decreasing patient relapses, reducing healthcare costs, and proving to insurance companies the value of its care in a healthcare environment increasingly driven by value-based care contracts.

The data the MAP Health technology offers us is timely and important to the future treatment of patients. In the past we used our own Excel spreadsheets to study relapse rates and reasons for relapses. But the MAP program does all of that for us. We enter information and it, in turn, helps us improve our treatment outcomes because we can track everything in real time, said James Flowers, founder and CEO of Kemah Palms Recovery, where he also is a caregiver. And that will help us achieve a lower recidivism rate in the future because we will be able to improve the course of treatment on future patients based on past experiences

The national rate for recidivism for substance use disorder patients is very high, and the goal of using this technology is to get as low a recidivism rate as possible, Flowers explained.

Whereas the system might show that patients who stay in treatment 30 days or less exhibit a much higher rate of recidivism compared with patients who stay in treatment for 90 days. The system then can help the caregivers study comorbid disorders with 30-day patients to see, for example, if they have something like bipolar disorder and how that might be affecting the outcome.

How many days did they stay? What substance do they use? Are they polysubstance or alcohol use? Flowers asked. We can track all of this and more visually, look at it, and see where we need to do something different for folks.

All of this comes back to the new initiative from CMS to promote interoperability in healthcare organizations such as long-term care facilities, behavioral health providers and substance use disorder treatment centers.

Not only is the substance use disorder treatment center space lacking electronic data, but the data that does exist is siloed, and that leads to increased healthcare costs and a diminishment in improved outcomes, said Jacob Levenson, CEO of MAP Health Management. This is a nut that is going to get cracked. And here is the good thing: Treatment centers literally are 25 years behind other specialties with technology, so there is an opportunity from the outset to get it right, with a much better interoperability advantage.

And having interoperable electronic data is not just about demonstrating value to insurance companies or reducing healthcare costs, it's about getting the data into the hands of healthcare providers for evidence-based care, Levenson added.

Today, Kemah Palms Recovery caregivers use the clinical data in their EHR and tracked and analyzed by the MAP Health system every day to enhance care and work toward improved outcomes and evidence-based care.

Every morning from 8-9 a.m., we use outcomes data when discussing current cases, Flowers said. We study people who are at risk of relapse, talk about people who need to come back into treatment or need to be referred out to other centers for treatment. It has helped us to see that data on a daily basis in our clinical rounds.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT

Email the writer: bill.siwicki@himssmedia.com

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