5 ways ACOs benefit from health IT

From faster communications to discovering new best practices, health IT will help ACOs surge ahead
By Benjamin Harris
01:46 PM

As accountable care organizations spring up, more institutions will be communicating with each other to deliver and be reimbursed for care that is judged by its quality. Doing this will be a challenge, as multiple hospitals and practices team up with and talk with myriad payers. Leveraging health IT to streamline and improve those communications will not only make it easier for all involved, but could be a crucial element to staying afloat and delivering the best possible levels of care. Steve Bethke, vice president of product management at Lumeris, a provider of operations, technology and consulting services to ACOs

Improve provider-payer dialogue. The healthcare paradigm is shifting to a mode where the overall health of a patient is the cash cow, not episodic expensive treatments. In this light, "the provider is now invested in the health of the population," says Bethke. Healthcare IT solutions such as analytics and EHR integration between the payer and the provider can improve communication, and drive results focused on the end goal of improving patient outcomes. Bethke says IT solutions can be deployed that answer the question "how am I doing on my quality measures today?" and that the "system can help expose gaps in care ... [by] utilizing the data that's available and has been aggregated from the ecosystem." 

Go beyond clinical settings. Taking medicine to the people and trying to foster a higher level of patient-physician engagement is one of the golden ideals an ACO hopes to achieve. Better connected patients do more to drive their own care, resulting in a healthier patient population and a higher level of compensation for the organization. "Today we see one huge benefit in healthcare IT [in] empowering the physician with the right information and the right sort of compensation structures to engage patients in meaningful ways," says Bethke. He also speaks of using IT capabilities to help simplify everything from exposing high risk patients to improving scheduling.