Progress Toward Digital Transformation in an Evolving Post-Acute Landscape

Dori A. Cross, Julia Adler-Milstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Digitization has been a central pillar of structural investments to promote organizational capacity for transformation, and yet skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and other post-acute providers have been excluded and/or delayed in benefitting from the past decade of substantial public and private-sector investment in information technology (IT). These settings have limited internal capacity and resources to invest in digital capabilities on their own, propagating a limited infrastructure that may only further sideline SNFs and their role in an ever-evolving health care landscape that needs to be focused on age-friendly, high-value care. Meaningful progress will require continuous refinement of supportive policy, financial investment, and scalable organizational best practices specific to the SNF context. In this essay, we lay out an action agenda to move from age-agnostic to age-friendly digital transformation. Key to the value proposition of these efforts is a focus on interoperability - the seamless exchange of electronic health information across settings that is critical for care coordination and for providers to have the information they need to make safe and appropriate care decisions. Interoperability is not synonymous with digital transformation, but a foundational building block for its potential. We characterize the current state of digitization in SNFs in the context of key health IT policy advancements over the past decade, identifying ongoing and emergent policy work where the digitization needs of SNFs and other post-acute settings can be better addressed. We also discuss accompanying implementation considerations and strategies for optimally translating policy efforts into impactful practice change across an ever-evolving post-acute landscape. Acting on these insights at the policy and practice level provides cautious optimism that nursing home care - and care for older adults across the care continuum - may benefit more equitably from the promise of future digitization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberigac021
JournalInnovation in Aging
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America.


  • Health information technology
  • Interoperability
  • Transitions of care

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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