News Feature | February 8, 2016

ACOs Face Interoperability Barriers

Source: Allscripts
Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

HIE Effectiveness Questioned As Vendors Align For More Interoperability

According to a new report, a lack of out-of-network interoperability is the biggest obstacle facing ACOs today.

A report from Premier and the eHealth Initiative (eHI) finds ACOs have a difficult time integrating data, especially when it comes to information from specialists. “Obtaining data from settings outside a network requires complex data-sharing agreements and new interfaces between systems,” write the report’s authors. “Unfortunately for ACOs, their need to manage entire patient populations also requires that they integrate data from many of these disparate systems.”

Modern Healthcare reports 69 percent of the ACO respondents surveyed reported “having a harder time integrating specialty-care data, almost double the number for any other care setting.”

“These results are not surprising. We know that it’s relatively simple for providers within the same organization using the same systems to share information about their patients. The real challenge is successfully moving and integrating that data across dozens of different systems, and we’ve found that out-of-network practices often lack the proper incentives to make investments in the data sharing agreements and interoperable interfaces necessary for success.

“This lack of liquid data is creating dry spots in care delivery, making it difficult for ACOs to proactively intervene with needed care. Until HIT systems across the continuum can exchange data freely, we handicap ACOs in their quest to achieve healthcare’s Triple Aim of better health outcomes, quality and costs,” said Jennifer Covich Bordenick, CEO of eHI in a press release.

iHealth Beat reports 53 percent of ACOs have not integrated data from behavioral health providers; 48 percent have not integrated data from long-term and post-acute care providers; and 46 percent have not integrated data from palliative and hospice organizations.

“Although ACOs have successfully merged some HIT systems, data access is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Mimi Huizinga, MD, vice president and chief medical officer of Premier’s Population Health Management (PHM) Collaborative. “We urgently need public policies to require interoperability standards in HIT so that providers can access data from any system and unlock the true potential of coordinated, high-quality, cost-effective healthcare.”