Analytics tops on ACOs' 2013 investment wish lists

New analytics capabilities top the investment goals for accountable care organizations, according to a new report from IDC Health Insights.

"While still behind the curve, healthcare organizations have recognized the pivotal role that data plays in the success of accountable care," an announcement touting the report said. "Survey results clearly point to a focus on IT investments in tools for analytics to manage the health of the population."

The report is based on a survey of 40 hospitals and 30 insurers, according to Health Data Management.

The organizations were looking to add four main analytics capabilities:

  • The ability to identify patients/members in need of care management  (cited by 66 percent of respondents)
  • Clinical outcomes (named by 64 percent)
  • Performance measurement and management (64 percent)
  • Clinical decision-making at the point of care (57 percent)

Previous government attempts to improve quality and control costs were not successful, largely because they were based on inadequate data; such data was based on past information and not in a format friendly to physicians, according to IDC. New efforts "are about the ability to move, normalize, and analyze data in a far more robust fashion than 20 years ago," according to the announcement.

Respondents also said they're embracing advanced analytics and new data sources. Priorities for 2013 include investments in advanced analytics, such as streaming data monitoring and analysis, text mining and social graph analysis.

New types of data being used to support accountable care include information from mobile devices (42 percent of respondents), social media (32 percent) and unstructured clinical data (29 percent).

Healthcare CEOs polled by Pricewaterhouse Coopers Health Research Institute recently ranked clinical informatics as the most-sought-after skill that will help them reach their IT priorities.

IDC noted skepticism about the ability of ACOs to meet the goals of improving patient health and experience with the healthcare system, while at the same time managing financial growth.

A recent Wall Street Journal article portrayed ACOs' mission as to push doctors into hospital employment in order to better regulate them. Its author argued that costs will rise when doctor productivity falls.

A second WSJ commentary published last month argued that most ACOs are doomed to fail because they don't include real behavior change among doctors and patients. To achieve high-quality, low-cost care, the industry needs to embrace reform approaches that go beyond the ACO model, such as shifting more care to less-expensive walk-in clinics staffed by nurse practitioners, the authors said.

Despite the rise in physician employment by hospital systems, physician groups have overtaken hospitals as the largest backers of ACOs, according to a Health Affairs blog post.

To learn more:
- here's the announcement
- find the Health Data Management article

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