KLAS: EMRs don't yet meet ACO needs

Electronic medical records are not meeting the needs of physician-led accountable care organizations, causing providers to turn to third party ACO vendors to meet their needs, according to a new report from Orem, Utah-based KLAS Research.

For the report, KLAS interviewed 46 physician-led ACOs about their software use. More than two-thirds (68 percent) said they use a third-party vendor rather than an EMR vendor. The third-party vendors ranked higher than EMR vendors in all functional categories, such as connectivity, care management and reporting, and scored significantly higher in risk stratification.

"Overall, EMR vendors are not ready for prime time, rating on average 6.3 on a 9.0 scale for meeting ACO needs," the report executive summary states. The two EMR vendors that came closest to being exceptions were Epic and eClinicalWorks, which rated 7.3 and 7.0, respectively.

Of the third-party vendors, only Optum stood out, being used by four ACOs. Only seven other vendors were mentioned more than once, and none of those were mentioned more than twice.

More ACOs are led by physicians than by hospitals or integrated delivery networks, according to the report.

EHR use is an important element of participation in ACOs, particularly for those entities involved in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) created by the Affordable Care Act. The final rule implementing the MSSP, issued November 2011, notes that the quality measure, "Percent of PCPs who successfully qualify for an EHR Incentive Program Payment" will be given double the weight proposed initially by CMS to stress the importance of EHR adoption among ACOs.

To learn more:
- read the announcement