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Care coordination and management: Technology solutions should promote patient care coordination and management at point of care. As an organization’s data is standardized, tools should be in place to share this information across the care team, including with nurses, doctors, patients and others.

Clinical decision support (CDS) integration: CDS is an essential part of an organization’s IT structure today. When integrated with an electronic medical re- cord (EMR) system or a health information exchange (HIE), it can compile data from across all available sources, analyze it against evidence-based medicine and deliver actionable alerts that help drive clinical and economic effi ciency, as well as improve quality of care. Setting up the right CDS tools is an important step in qualifying for meaningful-use requirements, but also in supporting new economic models of care, like an ACO. A few things to consider when selecting CDS technology include:

1. EMR/HIE interoperability, with the ability to wrap around any industry-standard EMR or be connected to any HIE;

2. Broad rule set, with medical evidence-based rules that cover a range of diseases and conditions;

3. Real-time analytics, which can help determine what treatment options are most appropriate based on a patient’s history; and

4. High clinical accuracy, when compared to informa- tion in patients’ charts.

The changing business model: A move towards collaborative care

Current IT requirements support and point to a shift toward collaborative and more coordinated patient care. Further, starting as early as 2012, government incentives will specifi cally encourage one organization model by giving health plans, doctors and hospitals more reason to build or become part of an ACO within the context of Medicare. And a recent advisory board survey found that 73 percent of hospital fi nance executives said that creating such an organization was a vital investment priority for their health system.

Everyone seems to have a different opinion about how to defi ne an ACO. Essentially, this new business model will be structured to bring together doctor groups, specialists and healthcare facilities to create a more personalized, connected and accountable way to provide healthcare. In this model, organizations will be collectively rewarded based on the health of their population. This represents quite a change from the current healthcare model that is structured more around episodic care.

As organizations consider becoming an ACO down the line, it is important to keep the focus on patients HEALTH MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY April 2011 21

– building an organizational structure that promotes col- laboration by all healthcare players (payers, providers, patients and other healthcare organizations) to improve the care experience, reduce costs and ultimately save lives. Whether or not an organization becomes an ACO, a more collaborative model has been shown to signifi cantly improve care.

Beyond immediate requirements, organizations should keep in mind several critical issues that will ensure their IT structures have the fl exibility to rapidly meet future federal requirements and support improved healthcare – including improved patient care, decreased costs and increased effi ciency.

Setting up the right HIT infrastructure can signifi - cantly help provider organizations improve patient care and outcomes, while reducing costs and increasing effi ciency. Regardless of the reasons organizations are investing in new technology solutions, it is important that they embark on this journey with the overarch- ing goal of improving their own IT infrastructure and how they fi t into the evolving healthcare model, ultimately helping to improve patient health and the care experience.


Check list of important questions to consider when selecting a technology system:

1. Does it meet federal security standards?

2. Will it be easy to implement/does it work with existing IT infrastructure?

3. Will the new IT infrastructure collect and share data in a standard format?

4. Will the new IT infrastructure promote care coordination and management at point of care?

5. Does the vendor have a dedicated team to update its CDS library?

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