HIMSS12 Preview: What Practices Eyeing ACOs Need to Know

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An education session at HIMSS12 in Las Vegas will lay out foundations for physician practices hoping to succeed in an accountable care organization environment.

Fundamental issues for ACOs and related patient-centered medical homes include care coordination and continuity of care, says Steven Waldren, M.D., director of the Center for Health-IT at the American Academy of Family Physicians. Many practices, for instance, need to re-think long-held attitudes about care coordination, he notes. “A lot still see the physician as the source of care and not the practice.”

If the practice is reorganized as a care team, staff can be leveraged to better take care of patients while adding additional services. Nurses, for instance, with the aid of clinical decision support technology, can give basic preventive care and chronic disease management services; freeing up physicians to handle more complex visits, Waldren explains. For instance, software can identify patients at highest risk for the flu, the practice could get the patients in and a nurse can administer the vaccine.

This ensures patients get what they need while generating additional income, Waldren adds. “It’s doable and it’s the right thing to do for both the patients and the practice.” The session, “Laying the Foundation for Accountable Care,” is scheduled on Feb. 23 at 11 a.m.

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