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Health IT interoperability proves to be costly for ACOs. Some spending more than $1 million!

In a recent e-Health initiaitive survey of 69 Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs) in the US, access to external clinical data and data integration were identified as the top challenges they faced.

Three-quarters of those surveyed indicated that reaching external records outside their healthcare system was the biggest problem they faced and that data integration came a close second. Others challenges noted were change management -over half surveyed said this was an issue and over a third cost of new IT health was a problem.

Health IT interoperability proves to be a costly endeavor for ACOs as well. As many as 25 percent of respondents reported spending more than $1 million on developing ACO interoperability. Half that figure (13%) spent between $500k and $1 million. The high costs are linked to the number of information systems that ACOs need to integrate in order to operate effectively. Almost half of responding ACOs reported having to integrate between 11 and 50 health information systems (39%).

Integrating data from external healthcare providers such as Home health, long-term post acute care, behavioral health also proves tough hurdles for the ACOs.

With regards to health IT infrastructure, ACOs are leveraging technologies in five areas - analytics software (82%), EHR adoption, care management software (62%), computerized physician order entry (CPOE)/electronic prescribing (eRX), and data warehouses (56%).

A closer look at data use and analytics reveals claims data (96%) and clinical data (79%) to be the most scrutinized data sources for analysis. These forms of healthcare data analytics aim to identify gaps in care (84%) or outliers in cost/utilization (80%) as their primary goals. Motivations for other healthcare data analytics include comparing clinician performance (77%), measuring or reporting on quality (77%), and proactively identifying risk (68%).

The main takeaway from the survey is that the ACOs need real solutions for clinical data integration to ensure that all members of a patient's care team are on the same page.

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