ACO start-ups in IT-buying mode

By Bernie Monegain
10:48 AM

As hospitals, physicians and insurers partner to create accountable care organizations (ACOs), a recent Black Book Rankings survey reveals that 96 percent of organization executives are acquiring new technology.

Start-up ACOs anticipate $500 million spending in the first year, according to the survey.

The technology purchases include clinical decision support, revenue cycle management, health information exchange, electronic health record systems (new and replacement), e-prescribing, data center security and storage solutions, business intelligence and care coordination management.

However, less than 7 percent of ACOs indicated that they are executing a synchronized stakeholder strategy for information technology due to lack of funds and/or expertise at this point in development.

Based on the uncertainty of their current system capabilities to meet reimbursement complexities, 88 percent of ACO leaders indicated they intend to seek advice from consultants and vendors to identify ACO provider technology needs and make system selections.

“The rapid adoption of HIE, bundled revenue cycle management, business intelligence and clinical decision support systems are clearly driven by accountable care implementation, meaningful use implementations, the need for care coordination, outcome based reimbursement challenges, available funding, and opportunities for regional stakeholder participation,” says Black Book’s Senior Partner, Doug Brown.

The 2012 Black Book IT Yearbook for ACOs report, released Sept. 24, also ranks the top software and service vendors based on the responses of early adopters and users, as well as currently implementing ACO customers.

The survey of 1,100 healthcare delivery organization leaders provides aggregated insight into the conditions and priorities of the developing ACO marketplace. The Black Book IT Yearbook also guides executives on over 100 functionalities they need to automate in planning a successful ACO operation, adds Brown.

A handful of vendors achieved the highest client satisfaction rankings in the ACO subgroup of 2012 Black Book survey participants. “ACO solution buyers are overwhelming looking for proven vendors with successful track records with early adopters,” Brown says. "The IT yearbook assists organizations in pinpointing those vendors with both developing ACO experience and high customer satisfaction, which can be a very intensive process for a start-up ACO."

Eighty-seven percent of prospective ACO purchasing decision makers indicated an intention to only consider established, top-tier vendors, creating a potential multimillion dollar revenue surge for leading technology firms in the next year.

Lists of the top vendors by functionality and service line can be viewed here.

Companies mentioned in the Black Book 2012 ACO IT Yearbook include: AdvancedMD, Aetna, Allscripts, Altruista Health, AmazingCharts, Amerinet, Aprima, AT&T, Blue Cross Blue Shield, CERECONS, Cerner, Certify, DiagnosisOne, Dimension Insight, Emdeon, Epic Systems, GE Healthcare, Greenway, Harris Healthcare, IBM, InterSystems, Lawson, Lumeris, McKesson, Med3000, MedAssets, Medicity, Meditech, Mirth, Newcrop, Optum Insight, Oracle, Orion, Phytel, Practice Fusion, Quest, RxNT, SAP, Siemens, Truven, United Healthcare, Valence Health, Verizon, Wolters Kluwer, Zynx Health.

Each solution's performance ranking is based solely on client experience and satisfaction derived from all provider customers including developing ACOs, and the study examined enterprise solutions, which include: hospital systems and IDNs, community hospitals, large physician practices and clinics, solo and small physician practices, provider-based payers, insurers, ACO support agencies and ancillary providers.

Black Book surveyed 302 ACOs related organizations in Q3 2012 across 46 states. Sponsoring organization headquarters were hospital systems in 168 of the ACOs, physician groups in 91, insurers in 38, and community-based groups in 4.

Other key findings in the 2012 Black Book ACO IT Yearbook include:

  • Some 39 percent of ACO respondents are making most all technology purchasing decisions before Q3 2013.
  • An estimated 95 percent of hospital and IDN/chain executives assert that their expedited calendar of acquiring new technologies, namely HIE, EHR/EMR, clinical decision support, care coordination, business intelligence and complex revenue cycle management solutions are completely inspired by pressures to develop and prepare ACO operations and other changing reimbursement models.
  • Some 28 percent of those providers participating in ACOs have basic HIE and interoperability strategies in place and will focus entirely on community or regional exchanges for the foreseeable future, rather than national health record exchange initiatives.

More than half of all hospitals and payers agree that the ACO technology return on investment will be discovered in the collaboration on ACOs and patient-centered medical homes within the first two years of successful operations.

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