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Health IT Pulse

May 15 2012   12:55PM GMT

Is increased technology the key to ACO care delivery?

Posted by: CbyerTechTarget
accountable care organization, ACO, clinical decision support, EHR systems, HIE, Pioneer ACO Model

With the accountable care organization (ACO) destined to impact health IT strategy, insurer Aetna and Banner Health Network (BHN) — a non-profit health care system — are adding technology aimed at expanding its collaborative efforts.

The organizations will use for population health management and patient services products, targeting more than 200,000 patients, according to a company press release. Further, the partnership will support 50,000 Medicare patients covered by the Pioneer ACO shared savings program in the Aetna and BHN ACO collaboration. The Pioneer ACO program was established for health entities that have experience in managing care for patients across care settings.

There are three technologies to be added, starting with health information exchange services through Medicity. Medicity will deploy a “secure, two-way exchange of health information across a patient’s entire care team, including hospitals, physicians, labs, pharmacies and other ambulatory services,” according to Aetna.

Another technology to be deployed is clinical decision support (CDS) via ActiveHealth Management. The CDS system includes a workflow tool to monitor and coordinate patient health outcomes. The final technology delves into mobile health, as smartphones will enable patients to select appointment times via iTriage, a health and fitness app available for download in the iTunes store and Android Market.

One reason for adding new technology is because traditional EMR systems lack a certain level of clinical knowledge to succeed in ACOs, said Charles Kennedy, M.D., CEO for Aetna Accountable Care Solutions in the press release, adding that harmonizing “clinical and claim information to create a broader patient record available to the entire care team.”

Purchasing more technology seems to be a common trend among providers and organizations that form ACOs, which need to ensure an effective, interoperable flow of information for better care coordination.

Among ACOs, health information exchange technology to — for example — connect with specialists is a key initiative.

While the ACO will decide which information is needed for better coordination, the information needs to be interoperable. What’s more, HIE functionality will also need to be tied to an ACO’s EHR system so providers can view the data within the care setting.

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