Health IT at the core of ACO effectiveness

Those involved in the push to create accountable care organizations (ACO) will find that effective technology lies at the heart of efforts to collaborate, eliminate duplication, apply best practices and cut costs, writes Frank X. Speidel, M.D., chief medical officer for Healthcare IT Leaders.

Health IT must evolve and support clinicians so that the collection and prioritization of information allows clinicians to make the best use of their time, he says in a post at HIT Consultant. Moreover, health IT should provide menus of effective actions clinicians can take based on that data, as well as protect patient privacy while optimizing dissemination of needed information. The aggregation of patient data in ACOs creates increased risk, should that information fall into the wrong hands, FierceHealthIT has pointed out.

Turning data into action remains key, with technology playing an important role.

"Not all patient data is meaningful. Winning HIT does more than simply advise the care provider 'you have pending lab results' when they log on. Winning HIT recognizes the signal amid a sea of background noise and recognizes that some values are critical," Speidel says. From there, HIT should offer a menu of evidence-based therapies.

Underlying technology was cited among the critical factors for organizational readiness to transition to an ACO model, according to a report from the Commonwealth Fund. That report said the financial resources to invest in the requisite infrastructure is essential.

Meanwhile, though coordinated care sounds ideal, it comes with a "dirty little secret," Lucian Leape, M.D., a Harvard health policy analyst and a nationally recognized patient safety leader wrote recently: Namely, it's not that well coordinated and no one is responsible for it. He cited a number of examples of breakdowns in coordinated care due to confusion over who was really managing it.

Though team-based care can improve outcomes and lead to greater satisfaction among patients and providers, most doctors need more support than is currently available to transition to that care model, FiercePracticeManagement reported recently.

To learn more:
- find the HIT Consultant article

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