5 ways Pioneer ACOs are using technology

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Is there any good news from the existing 23 accountable care organizations in the Pioneer ACO program, amid news that nine will leave because of failure to produce savings, two leaving the program entirely? Technology leaders at some of the remaining Pioneer ACOs seem to think so.

In interviews with InformationWeek Healthcare, they highlighted key areas where IT is providing a foundation for an ACO operation that works.

For example, Boston-based physician group Atrius Health uses an electronic health record system to help clinicians remain wary of how much services to provide before deciding which medication to prescribe, Richard Lopez, chief medical officer said.

Lopez said Atrius also uses the EHR to enable communication between primary care physicians and specialists. What's more, he said, the health system takes quality metrics from rosters used from patient rosters for population health management.

Bill Spooner, chief information officer at San Diego-based Sharp Healthcare, meanwhile, told InformationWeek that he wants his patients to be "sticky," so they'll keep coming back to Sharp for their care. To that end, he said, Sharp employs patient portals and maintains a "substantial" online presence.

"The interesting thing about the current state of ACOs is that we call them accountable care, but the only person that is accountable is the provider," Spooner said. "The patient has the option to go to any provider they want, yet the provider is accountable for the care and the cost."

The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology in June released a 42-page IT framework to help organizations as they shift into accountable care models. The paper was developed to address a basic issue with the transformation: lack of experience and knowledge about the necessary health IT infrastructure. As organizations grow and gain experience, the recommendations are expected to evolve, the authors say.

To learn more:
- read the article in InformationWeek Healthcare

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