Population health to trump ACOs, athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush says

First the industry must unhook its terrestrial addiction to fee-for-service models.
By Bernie Monegain
11:00 AM
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Population health ACO Jonathan Bush

athenahealth chief Jonathan Bush said that participating in an ACO is unlikely to be a profitable move. 

CLEVELAND — Athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush said that the network effect his company and other EHR vendors are aiming for will create the potential for so many buzzwords permeating healthcare today.

Those include artificial intelligence, Big Data, population health and others.

“All of those ideas depend on somebody getting share — enough share so that it doesn’t hurt to unhook the addiction — the insistence on the terrestrial fee-for service machine,” Bush said at the Cleveland Clinic’s Medical Innovation Summit here. “So, for us, we’re excited to build in retail, break the walls of our system and create a much wider definition of network – and therefore potential for network effect.”

[EHRs getting better? Readers rank vendors higher than last year in new survey]

Bush touted athenahealth's 85,000-providers and explained that only a third of them are on the Athena 1 server.  As the company builds out its own network that will also create opportunities.

“Everybody should start to learn through their customer audiences and to learn how to affiliate, to build affinity with them — and some trust,” he added. 

One emerging healthcare trend Bush took dead aim at: Accountable Care Organizations, or ACOs.

“You want me to play a game where it costs me a billion dollars to join and three years later, if I win, I get a half a billion dollars? That’s not a good game,” he said.

And Bush suggested a different approach. 

“Population health is the way to trump that game, to start playing a new game where you aggregate share and then you can be a little more aggressive with the analytics that come out that show you obvious things that you can act on.” 

Twitter: @Bernie_HITN


Helpful advice for planning to purchase a population health platform:

⇒ Experts explain what to look for when choosing a population health platform
⇒ Comparison chart of 8 population health products 
⇒ An in-depth look at 8 population health software programs


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