Study backs importance of robust analytics infrastructure for ACOs

Robust analytics infrastructure is one of the keys to success for accountable care organizations, according to a new study published in the journal Academic Medicine.

Scott Berkowitz, medical director for accountable care for Johns Hopkins Medicine and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and co-author Jennifer Pahira studied the nation's first 253 Medicare ACOs, paying particular attention to academic medical centers.

They focused on three areas: structure, leadership, and governance; use of information technology and data systems; and care management and population health.

They found that ACOs require comprehensive and integrated data and analytic systems that provide meaningful population data in real-time to care teams, promote quality improvement and monitor spending trends.

"There has to be an electronic medical record system robust enough to analyze and assess quality and safety issues. It's important to quickly identify areas where changes are needed," Berkowitz says in an announcement.

The information collected from integration of data from EHRs, claims history, surveys, administrative data, and various other sources holds tremendous value for organizations to not only improve quality, but also utilization, patient satisfaction, cost, and other areas as part of a continuous quality improvement process, according to the authors.

It also can create opportunities for rigorous study in implementation science, a growing area of research in which academic medical centers will be required to employ data-driven discipline and analytic expertise to be successful, they say.

These systems also can provide insight into individual contribution to care teams, highlighting areas of focus for improvement and educational opportunities. And they can offer improved risk adjustment to better reflect the burden of illness within a population.

Intermountain Healthcare and Aetna are among the organizations involved in ACOs harnessing data to improve care quality

Meanwhile, the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission has just launched a new accreditation program focused on ACO network infrastructure and exchange connectivity.

To learn more:
- find the abstract
- read the study
- here's the announcement