ACO and EMR

Posted on February 11, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’ll admit that I’ve been a little slow to grab onto the ACO movement that’s happening. As most who read this blog know, I’m a tech person by training and experience and so some of the hospital dynamics generally aren’t as interesting to me when they don’t relate in some way to technology. When I first heard the discussion about ACO’s I kind of put it in that general hospital workings box and didn’t care to talk about it much.

However, the ACO terminology keeps coming up over and over again. Plus, I’ve seen a number of headlines in passing that talk about the potential need for EHR software to make an ACO possible. Not to mention, I’m almost certain that someone at HIMSS is going to ask me what I think about ACO’s and I like to look reasonably well educated about important healthcare topics (with ACO’s being one of those this year).

I found one NPR article that talks about some of the details of ACOs that I found interesting. Although, they probably summed up the challenge of understanding ACOs in this sentence, “ACOs have been compared to the unicorn: Everyone seems to know what it looks like, but nobody’s actually seen one.”

That gives me cause for concern. I’m a very practical and hands on kind of person. Not that I can’t catch the vision of where the future might lie, but I generally find it hard to follow something that doesn’t have a reasonable path towards actual execution.

So, I’m reaching out to my readers to help me understand ACOs. How will they be developed? Will they spawn from other entities? Are they just a pipe dream that will never become reality? Is this a failed business model from the start which will end badly?

Then, of course I’m interested in what any EMR companies are doing to prepare for the needs of an ACO. What role will an EMR play in an ACO? Will it be the key to the accountability part of an ACO?

What other things am I missing when it comes to ACO?

As is often the case, the comments on this will be more valuable than the post. I look forward to learning from you.