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ACO participation on the rise and so are cloud services for them

More accountable care organizations are forming in order to gain reimbursement advantages, and that has physicians and hospitals mulling the possibility of ACO participation this year. As of last year, hospitals and independent physician groups had formed about 360 ACOs

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since the start of the program. Currently there are 123 that will provide care for Medicare beneficiaries throughout the U.S. These numbers are likely going to continue to rise as more health groups begin to align with the new outcomes-based payment model.

The shift to the ACO reimbursement model is proving to be a cultural shift for many physicians. And for most organizations, the change requires certain technology and infrastructure investments to help support it. For providers who have implemented an EHR, the change may not be as significant as it is for providers who are still paper based. Cloud-based services for credentialing, health information exchange, quality performance registries and case management are also becoming viable alternatives for reducing dependency on hosting systems for specific ACO requirements.

Similar to the process that providers adopt when selecting EHR vendors, health organizations in general will need to employ a selection process that enables choosing the right tools for ACO participation for their group. The same formal purchasing processes -- such as evaluations, reference reviews, requests for proposal and contract reviews -- will be a must to ensure the right selection is made. A selection committee comprising folks across disciplines and roles should work to define organizational needs, and in some cases should work with third-party consultants to determine current and future states of workflows and the products that will help their ACO succeed.

For those organizations who have decided that ACO will be a direction they are looking to take in 2015, they will need to establish the different stakeholders that will begin the initial planning phase now, and also submit their application to CMS beginning this summer.

Reda Chouffani is vice president of development with Biz Technology Solutions Inc., which provides software design, development and deployment services for the healthcare industry. Let us know what you think about the story; email editor@searchhealthit.com or contact @SearchHealthIT on Twitter.

This was first published in January 2014

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