Many factors determine which ACO your practice may join. See how EHR compatibility fits in.
Q: My practice has been approached by two hospitals about joining accountable care organizations (ACOs). One of the hospitals uses the same electronic health record (EHR) system as we do. Would that make integrating with that hospital substantially easier, and should it be a consideration in choosing between the hospitals?
A: ACOs involve a signifcant cultural shift, with technology used as a tool to support the change. A key consideration is referral patterns, because the goal of an ACO is to optimize care. How entrenched is your EHR system? Is it effectively supporting your physician-nurse teams to the point that doctors would leave the practice rather than switch EHRs?
If the answer is yes, then making a determination based on the EHR probably is appropriate. If not, however, you may not want the EHR to be the main factor as you consider all the changes an ACO is likely to bring to your practice.
Nelson is with MGMA Healthcare Consulting Group, Jamestown, New York, and a Medical Economics editorial consultant.