Survey: ACOs Struggle To Adopt Advanced Health IT Functions

September 25, 2014 in News

Many accountable care organizations are struggling with interoperability and implementing advanced health IT functions, according to a joint survey by Premier and the eHealth Initiative, Modern Healthcare‘s “Vital Signs” reports.

The online survey, which was conducted in July and August, included 62 ACOs.

Survey Findings

The survey found that the ACOs’ adoption of health IT varies. For example,

  • 86% had an electronic health record system;
  • 74% had a disease registry;
  • 58% had a clinical-decision support system; and
  • 28% had the capability to build a master patient index (Tahir, “Vital Signs,” Modern Healthcare, 9/24).

In addition, ACOs largely have not been able to adopt more advanced health IT capabilities, such as:

  • Referral management tools;
  • Remote monitoring devices;
  • Secure messaging; or
  • Telehealth services (Goedert, Health Data Management, 9/24).

The ACOs cited several challenges related to health IT use. For example:

  • 100% of respondents said accessing external data was challenging;
  • 95% cited costs;
  • 95% cited a lack of interoperability;
  • 90% cited a lack of funding or return on investment; and
  • 88% said integration of disparate data from other EHR systems and other sources was a barrier (“Vital Signs,” Modern Healthcare, 9/24).

Premier Senior Vice President Keith Figlioli in a statement said the lack of interoperability “could stymie the long-term vision for ACO cost and quality improvements if not addressed” (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 9/24).

ACOs that used health IT generally reported value, according to the survey.

Specifically:

  • 66% of respondents said health IT improved clinical quality, compared with 7% who said it worsened it; and
  • 55% said health IT improved health outcomes, compared with 6% who said it made outcomes worse.

However, 35% of the surveyed ACOs said health IT decreased patient satisfaction, compared with 29% who said it improved it. In addition, 22% of respondents said health IT had a negative effect on provider satisfaction (“Vital Signs,” Modern Healthcare, 9/24).

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