HIMSS15: Don't underestimate the value of accountability

Looking ahead to next week's Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society annual conference in Chicago, several topics have the potential to grab headlines, including:

  • The reactions of hospital executives to Meaningful Use Stage 3
  • The continuing struggle to ensure interoperability between providers
  • Cybersecurity in the wake of the two biggest data breaches in the history of the healthcare industry

One topic not likely to make as big a splash, but every bit as important, is the federal government's push to speed the shift to value-based care.

The delivery of accountable care, of course, will rely heavily on the use of information technology. After all, providers must be able to exchange mounds of data in order to effectively keep patients healthy.

This means effective electronic health records and, to some degree, providers more willing to accept patient-generated health data.

"Talking to hospital CEOs and CIOs, this is something that's been on their radar for a while," College of Healthcare Information Management Executives CEO Russell Branzell told FierceHealthIT when talking about the Next Generation Accountable Care Organization models announced last month. "Generally, everyone knew this was coming. Hopefully someday we'll get to a wellness model."

Branzell added that the continued maturation of accountable care and value-based payment models are the reason for the push toward Meaningful Use and the automation of the healthcare industry.

"We're probably only halfway down this path," Branzell said.

Several hospital CIOs I've talked to who plan to attend HIMSS mentioned population health and patient engagement as priorities for their institutions.

What's more, the Next Generation ACO model, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, will give providers more opportunities to coordinate patient care efforts while also allowing them to choose their level of risk. To bolster such efforts, CMS is offering additional coverage of telehealth and post-discharge home services. The application for participation also asks potential organizations about their use of electronic health records and progress in the Meaningful Use incentive program.

For attendees planning to arrive early, HIMSS' "Changing Payment Models Symposium"--which takes place Sunday, April 12, from 8:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.--boasts a deluge of sessions geared toward understanding and navigating the shift toward increased accountability, particularly from an IT perspective. Former National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari, who now helps physicians begin their own accountable care organizations as CEO of Aledade, will serve as the symposium's opening keynote speaker.

Throughout the week, several other educational sessions will focus on new payment models, as well, including one set for Monday, April 13 at 2:30 p.m. in which representatives from Catholic health system Mercy will discuss how they're using analytics to drive accountable care.

None of those sessions or events likely will generate as much chatter as Meaningful Use or, say, the potential passage of the Sustainable Growth Rate bill (which likely will be voted on by the Senate next week).

The takeaways, however, could be invaluable moving forward. - Dan (@Dan_Bowman and @FierceHealthIT)

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