Successful information sharing fosters ACOs

Although cautiously hopeful, healthcare leaders say that successful health information exchange can prompt equally successful infrastructure for accountable care organizations (ACOs), according to a report released yesterday by the National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC).

"With a new environment of increasing accountability in healthcare, the need for effective, sustainable HIE to improve quality, care coordination, and cost-effectiveness is becoming even more important," said NeHC CEO Kate Berry in a press release.

NeHC asked leaders at 12 health information exchange organizations about their priorities regarding health IT. They found that preparation for ACOs clearly was driving health information exchange initiatives. The lure of patient information attracts payers and other ACO participants, while creating new revenue streams, according to the report.

For example, Big Bend Regional Health Information Organization in Tallahassee, Fla., is concentrating efforts toward health information exchange with the intent on becoming part of an ACO. However, each new ACO will need to create its own health information exchange functionality.

In addition, many organizations struggle with similar challenges. "While every HIE project is unique, they all share the same problems of participation, value, security, growth and especially sustainability, said Mark Jones, COO and Principal Investigator of SMRTNET, a profiled HIE based in Oklahoma.

In addition to the functional logistics, healthcare executives are concerned about the costs of making the transition. For example, more than half are concerned (31.7 percent) or extremely concerned (24 percent) about the costs of making a full transition to electronic medical records, according to a recent U.S. News & World Report health poll. Only 3.1 percent said they were not at all concerned.

For more information:
- read the full report (.pdf)
- read the NeHC press release (.pdf)
- read the FierceHealthIT article
- here's the U.S. News poll

Related Articles:
Execs to cautiously join ACOs, unsure of impact on quality
Why physician engagement doesn't always work
EHR 'roadmap' guides providers through transporting content
Latest HIE toolkit is primer for building information exchanges