It’s all about closing the loop.
There are a number of hurdles that can stand in the way of creating and maintaining a successful accountable care organization, but perhaps none is greater than communication, says Joel Vengco, CIO at Baystate Health. In fact, he believes that some physicians are stuck in the dark ages, relying too much on phones and faxing in an age when communication is traveling at the speed of light.
“With the speed and efficiency in which we have to do our jobs, you need an asynchronous way of being able to collaborate,” he says, a way that doesn’t include pagers or email. “There has to be other ways to communicate with one another continuously about patients. That’s been a challenge, because in order to manage an ACO, you have to have a team-based approach. And in order to have a team-based approach, you have to have a platform to collaborate.”
It’s a topic Vengco knows well, as Baystate’s Pioneer Valley Accountable Care organization (PVAC) was recently selected as one of just 21 Next-Generation ACOs nationwide. At next week’s HIMSS conference, he’ll share some of the most valuable lessons his team has learned in a presentation entitled, “Strategies for Optimizing Care Coordination Across an ACO,” which will take place Wednesday, March 2 at 10 a.m. PST in Palazzo I.
Drawing on his experience with PVAC, Vengco will discuss the most significant challenges in standing up an ACO, and how his organization is forging ahead by leveraging a secure texting platform, which sits on top of the Pioneer Valley HIE.
“As provider-to-provider collaboration expands, we need to be able to start to share images and data about individuals and groups of patients, and be able to message instantly with other providers,” he says. “We’ll talk a lot about how we’re accomplishing that.”
Vengco will also discuss the early hurdles PVAC faced with data aggregation — an issue that becomes more difficult when dealing with facilities that aren’t owned or managed by the health system, as well as the need for continued communication once patients are referred to outside providers. When physicians aren’t kept in the loop, it can lead to frustration, he says, making it increasingly vital to enable users to send and receive notifications in an efficient manner.
“There’s high value in bidirectional communication among providers who are referring to one another,” he says. “When a visit is completed and an alert gets to the provider who had originally referred that patient, that’s of value to the whole system.”
Finally, Vengco will discuss how his organization is helping to ease the transition into the fee-for-value world; the role analytics will play as ACOs continue to mature; and the changing dynamic between physicians and patients.
“There’s still a work to be done — some of it’s in policy, some of it’s in infrastructure, some of it’s in the ability to access data, and so there’s still a journey ahead of us. But we’re getting there,” he notes.