That was the question continually being asked at an event I was fortunate enough to take part in yesterday in Chicago, which was co-sponsored by Perficient, Premier Healthcare Alliance, and IBM. At this event, a panel was moderated by Perficient’s own Martin Sizemore on the topic of accountable care models. The panel included:
- Steven Riney, Vice President and CIO, Methodist Medical Center of Illinois
- Randy L. Thomas, FHIMSS, VP Portfolio Strategy & Design, Premier Healthcare Alliance
- Dan Pelino, General Manager, Global Healthcare & Life Sciences Industry, IBM
A group of hospital technical executives were in attendance and discussed the topic du jour: new models of care delivery. Based on the news and momentum, these new models of care delivery are inevitable. Whether it’s accountable care, or another favored form, the current incentive structure is evolving. This is occurring in hopes that waste can be eliminated and quality can improve. Although there is still much uncertainty, the inevitable truth is that the need to streamline and share information is central to this effort. Health IT systems will facilitate physicians and clinicians in meeting the highest standards of patient care through electronic participation in a patient’s continuity of care among multiple providers. In the very near future, providers must be able to identify, access, and seamlessly share patient information to drive efficiencies.
There were a number of great discussions shared during the event. Here is insight into a few:
- Healthcare providers know what they need to do in light of new models of care delivery, but the challenges come from the underlying infrastructure. To make all of these systems communicate, Randy Thomas discussed how the right people also need to have access to the right data, which occurs through the accurate harvesting of this data. This involves not only uniquely identifying a physician or patient, but pulling in cost data “as close to the source as possible” to drive true efficiency.
- There is a lot of apprehension in the healthcare provider market with regard to investing in these new models until they are “fully cooked”. Thus far, the risk vs. reward assessment has weighed too heavily in terms of risk. However, Steven Riney mentioned that there are business drivers that make forming an IDN an appealing alternative. He specifically mentioned Methodist Medical’s partnership with employer Caterpillar as an example of deriving real business value. This type of model was mentioned in the recent article “Employers interested in joining hospitals in ACO“.
- I also received some interesting tidbits about Watson from Dan Pelino. As anyone in Health IT who has been awake over the past week knows, Watson is being implemented at WellPoint. At WellPoint, Watson will first be used in the area of utilization management. Even more interesting, Dan spoke of the upcoming application of Watson in the provider market. Be on the lookout for a big announcement from IBM with regard to their large provider partner for Watson. Watson is looking to make his first provider foray as an assistant in the world of oncology, which is often the source of costly misdiagnosis. If you recall, Watson made his healthcare debut at HIMSS 11. Dan said this year’s IBM HIMSS announcement will be even bigger.