Technology Development in ACOs

Although there have been debates around Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and whether they will succeed, those arguing can agree on one thing: the technology needs for ACOs is extensive and goes way beyond typical EHRs. Traditional EHR and Hospitals Information Systems are designed to record patient care information, but are limited to that care setting’s organizational boundaries. If ACOs are going to grow in the future, they must incorporate a wide variety of different tech gadgets and systems to allow for cross-organization coordination.

A Boston-based physician group called Atrius Health uses EHR to enable communication between physicians and specialists, which is just the start of extending all possible technological systems. Technologies are being developed especially for patients with chronic diseases that allow easy communication between patients and care givers. While patient portals and personal records are important, ACOs are now taking advantage of texting and social media channels to provide patients with access to their own health data and other health forums.

The ability to share information and coordinate care across organizations is fundamental. Engineers are developing apps with alerts and reminders of patient data as well as other information regarding health warnings, disease info and lab test results specifically for ACOs. Physicians are notified of what the best practices to use are which can enhance patient safety and promote accountability. If everyone is easily kept notified of what’s going on using mobile technology, the goal is that operations will run smoother and costs should be saved in the long run.

In addition to social media and apps being utilized for patients and across organizations, ACOS are hoping to spread their data to top-level government officials in a more efficient way. ACOs are trying to compile patient information into an aggregate file for decision makers to access, use quantitative analysis, and work on improving population health. By contributing to an aggregate file for analysis, these clinical decision-makers will be able to leverage data to redesign care and make for the highest quality patient experience. Having information about existing diseases is very important in advancing clinical outcomes and trying to lower costs involved in population health management. A previous blog speaks more the issue of big data being used in ACOs and how it can help develop identifiable trends.

Technologies enabling patient access to their own data, physician alerts and reminders regarding disease management, and aggregate information for analysis by top-level government officials are just a few ways that systems are being extended for ACOs. Even more equipment with high performing results will need to be developed if ACOs want to compete with traditional practices.