Electronic Health Records

Use & Optimization News

EHNAC to begin accreditation for accountable care organizations

By Jennifer Bresnick

- Accountable care organizations (ACOs) will be able to apply for formal recognition from the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC) through the newly announced ACO Accreditation Program (ACOAP), which assesses an organization’s health IT connectivity, privacy and security, clinical performance, and population health management techniques.  The voluntary program will help to structure the progress and goals of accountable care organizations, which are becoming an increasingly popular way of sharing risk and reward among healthcare providers.

“Today’s ACOs have taken the lead in driving the value-based care model and placing the importance of improving patient outcomes above all else,” said Lee Barrett, Executive Director at EHNAC. “This new program strengthens the data exchange platforms that make those clinical successes possible by giving a third-party ‘stamp of approval’ to those ACO stakeholders who have demonstrated the secure management of protected health information (PHI) and can provide assurances to their overall corporate integrity and trust between entities.”

ACOs will be judged on criteria such as network infrastructure and data exchange connectivity, adherence to mandates such as HIPAA and the HITECH Omnibus, business processes, and resource management, as well as patient care processes such as performance on key quality metrics, population health management programs, and care coordination.

The program will officially begin towards the end of 2014, as the final criteria are still being refined.  Two organizations, Capital Clinical Integrated Network and HEALTHEC, have beta-tested the process, EHNAC says, which was developed with the help of public comment and thorough testing.  EHNAC is seeking participation from state agencies, existing ACOs, and other stakeholders to make the finishing adjustments to the plan and launch a national effort to promote the accreditation.

As the health IT adoption spectrum moves beyond the implementation of the basic EHR, accreditation programs provided by objective, external agencies are becoming more popular and more important.  In addition to ACO certification, EHNAC provides accreditation for health information exchanges (HIEs) and other healthcare technologies, while HIMSS recently unveiled its DELTA benchmarking tool for health IT analytics and Continuity of Care Maturity Model to complement its popular and effective EMRAM adoption score.

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