ACO Data on the Cloud

Providing care in a coordinated model, such as an accountable care organization, requires a lot of data. "The success of the model depends upon data," says Gary Palgon, the vice president of healthcare solutions at Liaison Healthcare. "The more data you have access to, the better decisions can be made on how to treat the patient now and in the long term."

Gathering data and sharing between and among providers is an essential part of any ACO, no matter the size. "Collaboration is key," Mr. Palgon says. "The more information you get in order to make decisions helps ACOs be profitable in the long term."

However, sharing data is sometimes easier said than done. Large ACOs, those involving many patients seeing providers in different facilities, have the challenge of trying to share data between hospitals and multiple physician practices, which has not traditionally been the typical data integration model in healthcare. "If you think historically about what happens in a hospital, they have worked to integrate applications within a single hospital," Mr. Palgon explains. "But the nature of an ACO is there is a team of hospitals, physicians and labs that take ownership of a group of patients. We have to build an entire connected network."

The cloud solution

There are many data integration options out there for ACOs, but one unique way organizations can share data is through cloud-based data integration. "The cloud is a natural spot for harmonization of data to take place, because the new healthcare ecosystem is for all of us to pull data and have access," Mr. Palgon says.

Using the cloud as a way to share data ensures all providers have real-time information on the patients they are treating, regardless of where in the network the patient previously received care. This will help ACOs meet the triple aim of lowering costs while improving care quality and population health. "The more connectivity, the clearer the record is. The end result is better health for the patient, and the business is saving money," says Mr. Palgon.

Beyond making real-time data aggregation easier, cloud-based data integration can solve two other common problems that come along with interconnectivity and data sharing, according to Mr. Palgon:

Different technology. Hospitals and physician practices that have joined in an ACO most likely have different IT systems, which can make it difficult to share data between them. Implementing a cloud-based system fixes that issue, according to Mr. Palgon.

Different terminology. Terms for procedures or conditions can vary from facility to facility, making it difficult to keep clear records of a patient's care within an ACO. "At the end of the day, the doctors are working on the same patient. How do we know what the patient has so we can make a determination?" Mr. Palgon says. A cloud-based system can help solve this problem because all of the constituents in an ACO are aggregating and pulling data from the same place, which promotes standardization, according to Mr. Palgon.

While the cloud can be a great place for data integration for many ACOs, it is not perfect for everyone. "The cloud isn't a silver bullet for everything," Mr. Palgon cautions. "You don't necessarily need the cloud in one hospital, or…building[s] with the same data center."

However, the cloud can help an ACO connect its facilities and providers together at a central point for data collaboration. That way, ACO providers have all the data they need available to them and are equipped to better provide high-quality, patient-centered care.

More Articles on ACOs and Data:

Best Practices for Data Analytics in Value-Based Reimbursement
Leveraging Data to PCMH Level 3 Accreditation: Blackstone Valley Community Health Care Case Study

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