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A Physician's Perspective: Meaningful Use of Health Technology

Nov 3 2011   8:06AM GMT

ACOs with no EHR technology?

Posted by: DrJosephKim
accountable care organization, aco, EHR

The final Medicare rules on Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) lifts the rule that an Electronic Health Record (EHR) is required. How will an ACO function without an EHR backbone to support all the necessary information exchange within the ACO?

I agree that using an EHR ought to be a quality measure. It should also be a necessary component because you can’t efficiently measure health outcomes on a population level without a robust EHR platform. The whole concept of an ACO is rooted in the principle that care ought to be outcomes-based. We’re trying to move the needle away from fee-for-service and we want providers to focus on important clinical outcomes.

Then again, maybe the point about EHRs isn’t relevant. After all, who’s going to jump into the ACO game without an EHR in the 21st century? Hospitals are already on their way to getting EHRs, so we know that’s going to happen.┬áThere are so many other pressures moving physicians to adopt EHRs, so the government probably assumes that the vast majority of providers will jump into the EHR movement.

I just think it’s still confusing to propose ACO rules that allow physicians to bypass the EHR requirement. If you can’t effectively measure the quality of care that is being delivered, how will you be held accountable?

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