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Customer Experience and Design

The Marriage of ACOs and Technology

ACOs are paving the way for a healthcare payment model that is based on quality and efficiency instead of volume. They were created as a response to health reform initiatives that focus on improving patient safety, quality of care and affordability. As the name suggests, ACOs are institutions that collectively share the risks associated with improving outcomes and patient satisfaction. ACOs seek to make these improvements by improving the coordination of care amongst nurses, physicians, practitioners, hospitals and health care providers.

The goals of ACOs are to successfully provide three foundational elements:

  1. Continuum of Care: These organizations rely heavily on the transfer of data to and from different institutions and areas of care to meet its objectives.
  2. Minimal Capacity Constraints: ACOs must be able to provide care when care is needed, without pushing out care and threatening outcomes. The constant ability to meet demands requires a delicate balance between efficiency and excess.
  3. Patient Centeredness: Ability to engage and promote patients to take part in their care through the use of educational materials, patient monitoring, telemedicine or gamification.

To meet each of these characteristics, organizations will put forth substantial efforts and will rely heavily on technology for help.

Role of Technology

Solutions provided by Health Information Technology (HIT) are critical to the ACO delivery of care model, because it is the solution to integrating disparate data from multiple locations and care givers. By investing in electronic medical records (EMRs), enterprise data warehouses (EDW) and health information exchanges (HIEs), data can and will be used to overcome the cost and quality healthcare hurdle.

An ACO must have an advanced HIT infrastructure to appropriately manage the entire population and connect with their members using tradition and alternative methods of communication. As a result, we can expect ACOs to lead the way to healthcare solutions and serve as examples of what technology can do for healthcare.

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