There’s no doubt that the industry is moving toward some sort of “accountable care” model. Exactly what that model will look like took a major step forward with the new rules released last month by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The success of the ACO model is reliant on all parties coordinating and adopting the technology that’s necessary to change the way care is provided. Another approach to this new model, the “Patient-Centered Medical Home
” (PCMH), is geared toward providing comprehensive primary care that facilitates a continuous relationship between the patient, the patient’s family when appropriate, and the patient’s personal primary care physician. Both concepts are based around a core set of principles designed to improve quality and safety, as well financial and clinical outcomes that reimburse care based on results rather than volume.
At Microsoft, we’ve been thinking about these new care concepts for a long time. That’s why we’re a founding member of the Accountable Care Community of Practice
, a consortium of health information technology companies including AT&T, Dell, GE Healthcare, Greenway Medical, Intel and other great companies that are invested in healthcare.
One thing we know for sure: whatever healthcare models emerge from reform, it will require more collaboration across the entire healthcare system. Not only will data need to be integrated both inside and outside a healthcare organization’s walls, it will need to happen seamlessly and without the individual users – doctors, nurses, administrators, and most importantly, patients – needing to think about which technology they, or the person on the other side of those walls, might be using. And that’s where we come in.
Microsoft provides technology that supports what our customers and partners need but technology that’s also flexible to adapt to their current environment. Healthcare technology needs to be customizable enough to be relevant, but not so specific that they become obsolete once new advancements are made. We need a system that is adaptable and holistic and is able to work with a continuum of situations and solutions and on the platforms that we all use day to day.
Here’s a look at how a few health organizations are thinking about, and implementing, early Accountable Care Organization (ACO) models:
- Cook Children’s Healthcare System is improving outcomes and lowering costs by working to prevent and treat illness, disease and injury and provide electronic access to health information. Using electronic referrals, virtual consultations and providing optimized decision making helps to address those health concerns while also being efficient.
- Baylor Healthcare System is using solutions to provide better registration and check-ins to reduce the time spent on paperwork and focus on patient care. Kiosks that allow patients to input their own medical information empowers them to manage their health, while also creating a more streamlined and welcoming environment.
- CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield of Maryland is establishing new business practices and adopting new technology to attract an estimated 5,000 primary-care physicians in its network to its patient-centered medical home program.
We are really looking forward to following the framework of accountable care as it evolves. How is your organization thinking about ACOs? How are you mapping the technology you already own to the broader accountable care vision?