The Value of ACO’s Sharing IT Services

Reduce the Cost of IT Services and Increase the Level of IT Value

If you are a provider or payer of healthcare services, have you ever asked yourself if it is more advantageous for your organization to move towards outsourcing or shared services? And, which is better adapted to handle the shift from volume-based payments to value-based purchasing? Maybe so…but most likely not.

As you know, the American healthcare system is currently in the midst of a dramatic reorganization. Today, as providers across the country are gaining experience with new approaches on the renewed focus of a “shared services model,” we have new reasons to believe that we can reduce unnecessary healthcare costs while maintaining and improving quality and access through the practice of sharing IT services.

“Shared services is taking the benefits of a large health care system and sharing those efficiencies and best practices with other organizations. It’s putting competition aside and creating partnerships to provide high-quality care that is more affordable, which may also lead to opportunities to work even more closely together in the future.”
–Curt Shaw, Vice President of Finance and Shared Services, Novant Health

In the traditional fee-for-service model, providers bill and are paid for services rendered, and the payer takes on the full risk of the costs of care. Value-based contracts and programs are establishing a different paradigm for the relationship between healthcare providers and whoever is paying for healthcare services. For instance, under value-based contracts, the provider bears some degree of accountability for a patient’s total cost of care. Under these arrangements, providers must manage costs, report on quality metrics, and achieve improved outcomes. In exchange, providers receive some portion of their compensation under an alternative arrangement.

Many healthcare professionals debate whether these accountable care approaches will be successful in reducing healthcare costs. The most common area of concern is about whether providers have access to the health information technology infrastructure needed to support the more complex business information systems. This includes business intelligence, analytics, and database and systems management tools, which indicates that large investments are continuing to be made in the technology infrastructure needed to compete in this new paradigm.

The truth of the matter is, when it comes to having access to healthcare information technology, valuable insights to analytics and your database and systems is a game-changer. Measurement of health outcomes, for providers and patients, is a core capability for accountable care organizations. The readiness of providers to adopt the health IT “shared services model” is critical for spreading knowledge, measuring results and increasing profitability.

Enhanced efforts and support is also needed from government to advance the success of ACO’s through effective health IT strategies around shared services. At both federal and state levels, governments must balance appropriate incentives that help to spur innovation in the use of health IT.

Adoption of new health technology models will not drive the transition to value-based payment alone—the success of the delivery of new “shared services” models will ultimately rely on providers and patients working together to achieve better health outcomes through a more efficient, patient- centric delivery system. Yet evolving technology solutions, driven by increasingly robust stakeholder demand, will continue to be a crucial element for realizing and achieving this vision.