Technology's role in completing the ACO picture

Technology's role in completing the ACO picture

By Dodge Communications (not verified) on November 30th, 2012

I recently read an article, “What Instagram and Kodak have to do with health reform,” in which the author explores the rise and fall of Kodak. In recent years, Kodak has suffered greatly—the company had to file for bankruptcy earlier this year. The author states this downturn might have been because the company “had too much at stake to embrace a disruptive technology that spelled doom to its business model.” Instagram, on the other hand, has achieved exponential growth in large part due to its adoption of technology.

Many healthcare organizations will face a similar decision about upgrading technology and workflow processes as the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) model comes to fruition. Most in the industry would agree technology will be one of the main factors in determining the success of this new care model but will organizations embrace its value like Instagram?

Assuming they do, experts point to several key areas where technology will help positively impact ACOs, and ultimately improve patient care.

  • Clinical data exchange – Technology can provide an easier, more secure way for hospitals and participating physicians to share patient health information. The ability to share records in real-time will allow physicians to have the most recent, complete data and information for each patient visit. This type of care coordination will also help minimize duplicate efforts of care and documentation to improve workflows.
  • Data benchmarking – Technology can help organizations meet the clinical quality measurements (CQMs) required by an ACO. There are 33 quality measures that must be met across four key areas, and organizations must be able to benchmark and track data. They will be able to identify areas of success and areas that need improvement for reporting efforts. In addition, population health and disease management efforts will be further improved and enhanced by this benchmarking.
  • Patient engagement – Technology can also ultimately help increase patient engagement within an ACO. With better access to personal health records, patients will more easily be able to adhere to treatment plans and relay information to all of their healthcare providers. Healthier patients tend to be happier patients, which further helps the ACO meet additional patient satisfaction requirements.

While joining an ACO requires a lot of research, education and preparation, the good news is that many of the industry’s technology vendors have been working for many years to meet and accommodate the demands of these models by developing advanced, interoperable technology.

Even though there is skepticism about how successful ACOs will really be, especially in terms of the business risks involved, there is also a lot of support for ACOs.  Technology will be just one component of the overall picture of a sustainable model for the healthcare industry’s future.