Each day, staff members at Advocate Physician Partners, the physician/hospital organization of Advocate Health Care serving the Chicago region, can run reports on patients scheduled for appointments the following day.

The reports check multiple registries--such as pharmacy, laboratory, electronic health record, oncology, chronic disease and preventive care--to identify gaps in care that physicians can address during the upcoming office visits.

Registries are relatively inexpensive, critical I.T. components under the emerging accountable care organization care model, said Lee Sacks, CMO at Advocate Health Care and CEO of the PHO. Speaking at HIMSS11, he advised attendees to invest in registries—and don’t wait until adoption of an electronic health records as registries provide valuable services even without an EHR.

Registries are part of Advocate’s Clinical Integration initiative that started in 2004 and today supports registries and a data warehouse. A Web-based commercial registry is populated with data from various registries.

Advocate is preparing to participate in an accountable care organization with Blue Cross of Illinois and is looking at additional investments to support comprehensive coordination of patient care--starting with primary care physicians--across the continuum of care.

For instance, the organization will hire more than 70 care managers--many of whom will work with small physician practices--to help chronically ill patients improve their health status. Low-hanging fruit that care managers will focus on­­--avoidable admissions, readmissions and inappropriate emergency department visits—should help bend the health care cost curve.More use of nurse practitioners and physician assistants, and better scheduling practices, can enable primary care practices to see more patients at the office and cut ED visits, Sacks said.

--Joseph Goedert


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