While technology has played an integral part in helping Madison, Wis.-based Dean Health System deliver high quality patient care, there's still a long way to go before the organization is making optimal use of IT, according to Craig Samitt, CEO of the Midwest system. And his organization is not alone, he adds.
Making several predictions about the future of accountable care, Samitt, writing for iHealthBeat, says that electronic health records are only part of the equation.
"Meaningful Use of EHRs will be essential, but not sufficient, to be 'accountable' in the future," Samitt says. He adds that in looking at technology's impact on other industries, most healthcare systems eventually will need to implement technologies such as kiosks, Web portals, virtual units and predictive patient diagnostic systems.
The latter, Samitt says, can be enabled via increased big data efforts, which also will help various facilities in being able to identify safety and cost concerns with more clarity. Samitt also sees health information exchange as becoming more common, calling its benefits "readily apparent and measurable."
"It would be hard to imagine a future healthcare world without [health information exchange] as part of the mainstream," he says.
Interestingly, for safety net hospitals in California, technology implementation--specifically with regard to EHRs--remains a major hurdle to forming accountable care organizations. Most organizations participating in a recent survey conducted by the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health say that their health IT infrastructures aren't ready to support such tools.
A report published in February by the eHealth Initiative says that such infrastructures need to be flexible enough to support continual change and ensure the security of patient data. Ultimately, though, it calls IT crucial to the success of ACOs because of the abundance of real-time health data that will be used.
To learn more:
- read Samitt's post