Accountable care organizations are coming to the health care industry, the extent of which is not yet known. Still, it behooves health information management professionals to start getting a handle on how ACOs will affect their departments.

An educational session at the American Health Information Management Association's annual convention, Oct. 1-6 in Salt Lake City, will explore how ACOs will directly impact HIM. Medical records personnel need to be "front and center" with their skills to make an ACO successful, contends Angela Carmichael, a co-presenter and director of HIM compliance at J.A. Thomas & Associates, an Atlanta-based consulting firm.

That means going beyond existing core skills to become adapt at new functions, such as developing and maintaining an enterprise electronic health record populated across disparate settings, with authorized records sharing across the settings. "You're sharing the record across the care continuum with entities previously not served by the HIM department," Carmichael explains. "Others in the care process have to have access to the information in real-time."

That means significant new policies and procedures governing operations, security and data usage issues have to be tackled, and HIM needs to be at the table when figuring it out, she contends. And there also are new data validation requirements on HIM coming, not just for DRGs, but also for quality reporting, and mortality and safety reviews.

Ensuring the integrity of electronic health records and data analytics are the greatest components of ACO success that HIM professionals can contribute to, Carmichael says. "It's another opportunity for those in the profession to prove their value."

Educational session 6662, "Accountable Care Organizations and Their Impact on the HIM Profession, is scheduled on Oct. 4 at 4:45 p.m. More information is available at


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