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Both Sides of Care Coordination

February 20, 2012
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One HIMSS12 pre-conference symposium sessions focuses on both the technical and human sides of care coordination

Of all the sessions I attended at the HIMSS12 pre-conference symposium on Feb. 20 in Las Vegas, there was one on accountable care organizations (ACOs) that really stood out in my eyes. The session was fronted by Steve Davis and Roberta Sniderman, both of HealthCare Partners Medical Group, a 7,000-plus physician multi-state, medical group based out of Torrance, Calif. The topic was care coordination from an IT perspective.

HealthCare Partners has an impressive ACO pedigree; it was not only selected as one of the five Dartmouth-Brookings National Commercial ACO pilots, but three of its divisions were selected for the Medicare Pioneer ACO pilot as well. During the session both Davis and Sniderman touched upon the three critical elements to a successful ACO, which were:

1.       Aligned incentives across an organization

2.       Robust technology

3.       Care management interventions

At length, Sniderman, director of technical outreach at HealthCare Partners, went over the particular technology elements in a successful ACO such as electronic health records (EHRs), in-patient tracking systems, a referral management system, patient portal, and much more. In addition, she talked about the role real-time analytics plays in care coordination, something I wrote about at length in an upcoming HCI magazine feature in our tech trends issue.

It’s impossible to dismiss the role technology systems play in a successful implementation of care coordination. Yet, I couldn’t help but appreciate Davis, the group’s medical director for clinical integration services, talk about the non-tech elements of ACO success towards the end of the presentation.  He discussed how in care coordination “sometimes low-tech is okay” and that “sometimes people just need to communicate with people face-to-face.”

Davis even showed a funny slide in his presentation of a picture of a doctor, with the words, “Technology: everyone is here to save you, but unfortunately you’re not in the computer” underneath. Due to the rapid development of technology within healthcare, this “human element” is probably easy to overlook. I’d like to think, like Davis and Sniderman, healthcare technology leaders are making sure this isn’t the case and are focusing on both sides of care-coordination.