REC Helps Nevada Physician Group Become Successful ACO, Meet Meaningful Use Requirements
By: Paige Fieldsted, Sr. Communications Specialist, HealthInsight Utah
When Healthcare 360, a health care management consulting company in Nevada, was tasked to start an accountable care organization (ACO) the company wanted to find an easier way to integrate providers and their various electronic health records (EHR) into its system.
Tripp Jones, owner of Healthcare 360, was working with Internal Medicine Associates (IMA) in 2011 when the two groups decided to partner and form an ACO. Jones said IMA represents about 75 percent of the ACO, was already operating at a high acuity level and had its own reference lab.
Jones said the ACO “made a lot of sense,” but also said the way most ACOs integrate providers didn’t seem like the right solution for them.
“We took a bold chance,” Jones said. “Where most ACOs are challenged with ‘one-off’ interfaces, we chose to use HealtHIE Nevada (health information exchange [HIE]) as the conduit. The expense and time involved to create one-off interfaces is challenging at best. We thought, ‘what if we take a bold step and use the HIE,’ those are interfaces you can write once and hopefully leverage for a long time.”
HealtHIE Nevada provides the technology and support that enables the flow of information among disparate electronic health systems.
Jones said the idea, with the help of HealthInsight, has been wildly successful.
“Because of our relationship with HealthInsight and onboard technology, it doesn’t really matter who we bring on. We have two practices that have software we haven’t even heard of but HealthInsight is on the job,” Jones said. “One of the challenges is integrating all the different providers and trying to aggregate claims data and clinical data, and labs and results.”
He said that HealthInsight’s knowledge of the HIE helped overcome the challenge of data integration and was one of the main reasons they joined HealthInsight and the Regional Extension Center (REC).
IMA’s lab system is also synced with the HIE, meaning IMA both sends and receives patient information to the HIE. Jones said the system works because it allows staff to quickly and easily add practices and physicians to the group by simply adding them to the HIE system. He said the result is being able to save time and money.
“We don’t have a full blown technology interface project every time we want to add a new physician or practice,” Jones said. “We can control the integration timeline instead of waiting for a software vendor to do the interface for us.”
In the process of working towards becoming an ACO, the providers at IMA were able to meet meaningful use requirements and move closer to hitting the triple aim.
“They were able to use their EHR systems more effectively because they started with a comprehensive health information technology (HIT) strategy that included a standardized way to consolidate the data; they had one pipeline instead of 15 pipelines, “ Keith Parker, HealthInsight HIT Operations Director said. “ They are one of the top ACO’s in the country in percentage saved and are seeing both a quality and financial return. They are hitting it across multiple arenas, from improved health quality outcomes to a lowering cost perspective. It is all about hitting that triple aim, better population health, better individual health outcomes and lower costs.”