Highmark to help docs with IT

Highmark executives say the health plan’s new initiative aims to provide independent physicians with the same advanced technology available to large health organizations.

Health plan partners with Allscripts, Accenture

PITTSBURGH – Health insurer Highmark, one of the largest Blue plans in the nation, intends to help physicians get on board with electronic health records and practice management tools needed for the docs to qualify for the government’s meaningful use incentives.

To that end, it is partnering with West Penn Allegheny Health System, EHR vendor Allscripts and consulting firm Accenture.

Outreach to Western Pennsylvania physicians is planned for this month.

Based in Pittsburgh, Highmark, which serves the Pennsylvania and West Virginia markets, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Deborah L. Rice, Highmark's executive vice president of health services, says Highmark wants the same caliber technology employed by large healthcare systems also available to independent physicians.

"Helping these medical providers leverage advanced administrative technology will enable us to promote best practices and clinical excellence across our network and will ultimately improve the overall quality of the healthcare services that our members receive,” Rice says.

She describes the collaboration as offering an affordable package that includes electronic health records, electronic prescribing and practice management tools, such as electronic patient registration, scheduling and patient follow-up.

"Patients benefit from electronic health records and other electronic health capabilities at their physician's office through improved quality of care," says Tony Farah, MD, West Penn Allegheny Health System's chief medical officer. "We plan to help physicians with very cost-effective electronic health record solutions that will enable them to access the records they need as quickly as possible to devote more time to their patients.” “These technologies help with care coordination and provide protocols that drive better health outcomes,” Farah adds.

West Penn Allegheny recently announced an expanded relationship with Allscripts for its own technology platform across multiple hospitals, physician practices and post-acute facilities.

While many physicians in Western Pennsylvania have been using Allscripts technology for years to help them provide the best care possible, says Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman, "meaningful use and the general movement toward value-based care create a new and more challenging environment in medicine.”

As part of the collaboration Accenture plans to do its share to help practices adopt and use electronic health records.

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