Accountable Care Organizations and Mobility: Working Together for Patient Enpowerment
By Andy De, Global Head of Industry Marketing, Health-Sciences, and Social Media Evangelist at SAP Health Sciences
Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) will change the way healthcare works, and the latest healthcare mobility efforts will help make ACOs successful. As an offshoot of healthcare reform, ACOs mark a shift in the way treatment and healthcare is both delivered and reimbursed: ACOs will not only put greater accountability on the network of providers and physicians for the wellbeing of their patients, but will also reimburse them for performance (patient outcomes) versus volume of services delivered.
ACOs allow for doctor-patient care to step beyond the walls of the hospital, also known as the continuum of care. With the help of mobile devices, doctors and care providers can monitor and track a patient’s vital statistics and check in on the patient anytime, anywhere. Patients can also submit their information to their doctor, as well as potentially choose to view their medical information on their Personal Health Records (PHRs), if interoperable with the provider’s electronic health record (EHRs).
Recent research has shown that a single ad-hoc blood pressure reading at an outpatient clinic often tends to be erroneous. People tend to be more nervous at a doctor’s office, skewing results. Taking multiple readings in the comfort of one’s home at various times during the day delivers a more accurate picture of hypertension. Going forward, it is entirely conceivable that patients will measure their vital signs using Bluetooth-enabled devices that will automatically upload these readings onto their care plans or a provider EHR for the physician or nurse practitioner to review and respond, if needed.
Social media also plays a role in communication between doctor and patient. Increasingly, doctors are communicating with their patients using e-mail and social media platforms as demonstrated by the Mayo and Cleveland Clinics. These platforms are also powerful for patient education, and, going forward, can potentially complement remote monitoring of patients in the context of the ACO as well as the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH).
Although ACOs have a bright future and are a step in the right direction, there are a few challenges: non-profit hospitals are embracing ACOs, but for-profit organizations and hospitals are pushing back because a huge burden will lie on IT reporting, risk management, and ACOs will fundamentally change the reimbursement model. How this plays out will really ensure if ACOs, as we currently see them, will become reality, or if ACOs will grow and evolve into a different model.
To enable care coordination across the continuum of care and enable the ACO model, SAP is delivering solutions aimed at bringing proactive collaborative care to the palm of doctors’ and patients’ hands. SAP’s mobile electronic medical record (EMR) is easily accessible on a tablet, and the notion of understanding, running, and reporting analytics on quality indicators all come into play with SAP’s BusinessObjects offerings for the healthcare industry. SAP’s latest healthcare solution, Collaborative E-Care Management, not only allows physicians, caregivers and patients to interact across the entire continuum of care, but also allows patients to receive all the education (pertaining to their disease state) and instructions needed to record their own vital signs within the context of their own home, which can all be transmitted securely and wirelessly. This ensures appropriate monitoring and intervention when needed, and leads to superior outcomes for the patient at a lower total cost of healthcare delivery, which is what we need for healthcare to be sustainable.