How ACOs are harnessing IT to transform care coordination

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), in a new report, highlights success stories from accountable care organizations that are harnessing technology in the transition to value-based payments.

While adoption of electronic health records helps individual providers access patient information and evidence-based guidelines for care, population health management and registry tools help them see larger trends among groups of patients. At the same time, infrastructure that ties together collaborating organizations and communities are necessary to fully deliver coordinated care, write the authors of a post at Health IT Buzz.

Examples of the successful ACOs include:

  • Catholic Medical Partners, western New York. A partnership between more than 900 independent physicians and Catholic Health System--three hospitals, two nursing homes and a home health agency--participates in the Medicare Shared Savings Program. Sharing information involves linking EHRs from more than 20 different vendors, including some practices that have not adopted an EHR. It uses HEALTHeLINK, the health information exchange services of the Western New York Beacon Community.
  • Montefiore ACO, Bronx. A top performer in the Pioneer program, Montefiore cites the use of data as the driver behind its costs savings and quality gains. In its first  year, it reported savings of $23.3 million, or 7.1 percent, and $14 million in shared savings.
  • The HackensackAlliance, New Jersey. This ACO is also a participant in the Medicare Shared Savings Program. It provides 4G tablets to patients with chronic heart failure, chronicobstructive pulmonary disease, and/or diabetes, to help them work with their nurse care navigators to manage their symptoms.

The paper provides two longer case studies:

  • The Bangor, Maine, Beacon Community used statewide resources to facilitate data aggregation and streamline reporting, including HealthInfoNet, the state's health information exchange, and a robust network of organizations focused on quality reporting and metrics.
  • Value-based initiatives in Austin, Texas, including the Medicare Shared Savings and Pioneer ACO programs, use state efforts to create Medicaid incentives for quality improvement and a commercial health plan program using the patient-centered medical home model.

Even amid the progress, the report notes that lack of interoperability remains a huge barrier to improving care coordination between institutions.

To learn more:
- read the blog post
- check out the full report