Flexibility to support continual change and the ability to ensure the security of patient data are key to creating and maintaining the infrastructure of accountable care organizations, according to a new report published yesterday by the eHealth Initiative.
The report's authors argue that health IT will be crucial to the success of ACO models because they depend on relaying timely health data to and from multiple sources. "The health IT infrastructure will need to enable the electronic exchange of health information, create linkages across different healthcare settings, track and coordinate care, facilitate payment distribution and collect data in order to measure quality goals," the authors wrote. "The system must also be designed to minimize workflow disruption."
Such technology must also be user-centric to ensure ease of use, which ultimately will lead to improved patient safety and less costly care. The authors maintain that infrastructure flexibility will be "a key factor for ensuring a viable, sustainable business model that can adapt to changing revenue cycles and financial accountability processes."
Similar conclusions were shared in a white paper released this week by healthcare software solutions vendor ZeOmega. The paper--which was the third in a three-part series--also specifies flexibility as a key aspect in the IT infrastructure of an ACOM, in addition to recommending an "iterative/phased deployment" strategy. "Agile approaches ... help organizations to be nimble and learn as they grow and grow as they learn," the authors say. "HIT vendors who are familiar and comfortable with this approach to deployment can help reduce the risk of an implementation."
A survey of 20 organizations representing both privately supported ACOMs and those supported by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services was used in the creation of the eHealth Initiative report.