The development of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) has an overarching goal of lowering healthcare costs across the board by enabling a team of healthcare professionals to work together in treating a patient and preventing disease. Essentially, ACO providers are responsible for decreasing some of the high financial investments found throughout the healthcare industry. Certified EHR technology may help ACO providers meet this goal.
In a report by the American Hospital Association’s Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence initiative and Leavitt Partners, the financial responsibility of ACO providers are discussed as well as the implementation of shared savings arrangements and the need to adopt advanced health IT systems.
The report – called The Impact of Accountable Care: Hospital Involvement with Accountable Care Organizations – explains that payment reform goes hand-in-hand with the deployment of health IT systems and certified EHR technology. More training and experience will be required of healthcare professionals working within an ACO to utilize health IT systems effectively.
More complex and advanced certified EHR technology and health IT platforms are making headway among ACOs and other healthcare organizations. In fact, hospitals and ACOs have begun investing their time and money in adopting sophisticated certified EHR technology and data storage solutions in order to better analyze population health data. Much of health information technology is a costly investment and will require regular upgrades and maintenance to effectively assist providers with delivering high-quality care.
The triple aim of healthcare puts greater focus on population health management and healthcare analytics. Once again, this shows the importance of quality IT systems for better tracking and analysis of patient data.
The report discussed several case studies that have attempted to improve care coordination, a key aspect of an accountable care organization. California-based Dignity Health has taken on care management efforts in the form of coordinating operational infrastructure with clinical procedures in order to reduce unneeded processes within the inpatient setting. Certified EHR technology and quantitative analysis systems were used to track disease management across the organization.
Last October, the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) published an article about how health IT tools and certified EHR technology could positively affect value-based payment reforms and accountable care organizations.
“Succeeding in new value-based payment models means provider organizations must adopt new approaches to delivering care and engaging patients. For instance, to effectively reduce excessive health care costs, providers must rigorously identify the subset of their patients that are associated with higher costs, such as patients suffering from chronic disease who may be using expensive acute care services due to a lack of effective management in the primary care setting,” ONC reports in the article. “In addition, providers must meet new operational requirements that require reporting on quality and financial metrics. Without the right services in place, these requirements can quickly lead to untenable administrative burdens that can be a distraction from improving care.”
In particular, certified EHR technology can deliver patient information and guidelines directly to providers at the point of care. This allows physicians to determine the best treatment decisions for their patients. Population health management tools along with EHRs help clinicians better address high priority patients and understand the overall health of their patient population.
Essentially, health IT systems could be leveraged effectively to manage value-based payment measures, improve population health management initiatives, and better coordinate care among ACOs.