ACC Touts Health IT Efforts To Improve Chronic Disease Management

June 29, 2015 in News

Last week, the American College of Cardiology sent a letter to the Senate Finance Committee calling for providers and policymakers to work on strategies that boost care coordination to help providers with chronic disease management, including through the use of health IT, Health IT Analytics reports.

The letter was sent in response to the committee’s request for stakeholder input on how to improve care for patients with chronic conditions (Bresnick, Health IT Analytics, 6/24). The committee in a letter last month said such input was “critical” to developing related legislation (iHealthBeat, 6/17).

Details of ACC Letter

In the letter, ACC President Kim Williams wrote that the organization supports care models — such as the patient-centered medical home, community health teams and accountable care organizations — that “emphasize interdisciplinary care, provider communication and coordination.” He added that ACC also supports such models’ “emphasis on strengthening the capacity of primary care.”

Despite that support, he wrote that ACC “strongly urge[s] the working group to acknowledge the importance of specialty care and the critical role of specialty physicians in these models.”

According to Health IT Analytics, some specialists have said they have been excluded from health care reform measures — such as electronic health record incentive programs — that are geared toward primary care providers. In turn, Williams advised Congress to consider guidelines that “explicitly acknowledge the need for specialists such as cardiologists to be able to coordinate care in models like the PCMH or an ACO.” Focusing solely on PCP-centered models “risks providing sub-optimal care for complex patients with chronic condition[s],” he wrote.

Williams noted that care coordination could be improved through value-based reimbursement with measures that incentivize providers to address overall outcomes in patients who have complex needs. He cited the merit-based incentive system program as an example of a good initial approach. However, Williams added that payers should emphasize cost-saving measures that help patients with chronic conditions, such as:

  • Relying more on telehealth and remote monitoring; and
  • Using prescription drugs more effectively.

Further, he said that ACC believes promoting patient engagement by relying more on technology will be well suited to new reimbursement measures.

In addition, Williams wrote that efforts to incorporate patients’ voices into their care should involve providers asking proper questions about end-of-life care. Such efforts would help prevent inappropriate and unnecessary care later, the group wrote.

He also noted that patients should feel empowered to be involved in the management of their chronic disease. Williams wrote that efforts to foster feedback between the clinician and the patient could include:

  • Home laboratory testing; and
  • Remote sensors (Health IT Analytics, 6/24).
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