Poor interoperability a significant barrier for ACOs

Though designed to improve care by sharing data from various sources, poor interoperability remains a huge barrier to accountable care organizations (ACOs), according to a survey from Premier and the eHealth Initiative.

In fact, all 62 ACOs responding to the online poll reported that access to data from external sources was a challenge for their organization.

"Even when ACOs have successfully adopted and merged HIT systems, they aren't able to effectively leverage data and analytics to derive value out of their investments," Keith J. Figlioli, Premier's senior vice president of healthcare informatics and member of the Office of the National Coordinator's Health IT Standards Committee, said in an announcement.

Those problems could stymie cost and quality improvements going forward.

Among the findings:

  • 88 percent of the ACOs face significant obstacles in integrating data from disparate sources
  • 83 percent report challenges integrating technology analytics into workflow
  • Interoperability of disparate systems is a significant challenge for 95 percent of organizations
  • At least 90 percent of respondents cited the cost and return on investment of HIT as a key barrier to further implementations
  • As ACOs pull data from more sources, they also report lower abilities to leverage their HIT infrastructure to support care coordination, patient engagement, population health management and quality measurement

These organizations have technology in place to improve clinical quality, the most common being electronic health records (86 percent), disease registry (74 percent), data warehouse (68 percent), clinical decision support (58 percent), and health information exchange (44 percent.)

However, the technology for distance-based medicine was less common. Only 38 percent had secure messaging, 36 percent had referral-management tools, 34 percent provided phone-based telemedicine and 26 percent had video-based telemedicine. That raises concern about rural ACOs' ability to leverage health IT to effectively manage remote populations, the authors said.

A previous eHealth Initiative survey found ACOs have made little progress in boosting their health IT capabilities in the past year. Seventy-six percent of respondents in that poll did not participate in a health information exchange at an enterprise, community or state level.

A study from Johns Hopkins, meanwhile, found robust analytics infrastructure that reports data in real time to care teams key to success for ACOs.

To learn more:
- find the survey
- read the announcement

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