EHRs need to be part of ACO mix to promote success

Electronic health record (EHR) integration--with a focus on interoperability--will play an important role in getting accountable care organizations (ACOs) up and running, according to a new American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) white paper on managing health information.

ACOs are expected to ramp up pressure to provide timely and accurate care as patients travel to and from various providers. To meet these needs, interoperable EHRs will become critical by providing:

  • Improved coordination of care for patients moving between hospital and ambulatory care.
  • Streamlined hospital/practice workflows using functions such as order entry and results review.
  • Support for Meaningful Use criteria and other quality measurement initiatives.

These models of EHR integration should include patient/provider portals that enable "improved collaboration within the ACO ecosystem" and allow patients to be more engaged in the care they receive, according to AHIMA.

Another integration model is a health-enabling information exchange that will require significant resources, but can provide and share more comprehensive health information to support patients.

Integrated administrative and clinical databases for analytics can offer a rich source of information to analyze and report clinical quality measures, calculate risk adjustments, and achieve pay-for-performance incentives, the paper noted.

However, administrative data remains severely limited because it doesn't distinguish between comorbidities and complications; the number of secondary diagnoses that can be reported may be limited; and it may not fully leverage ICD codes due to existing coding regulations.

For more information:
- see the AHIMA report

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