Craig Dreher, chief information officer at Mercy Health System (Portland, ME, U.S.A.), recently observed, “In the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) environment, you have to do everything exactly right. You get paid only if you meet certain measurements. Can you imagine applying those standards in other places, like the airline industry?”

That’s an interesting thought. Instead of a set price in advance for each flight, what if airlines could only receive payment upon meeting certain measurements? The flight must take off and land on time. Gauges must prove that the plane used correct amounts of fuel and oil. The pilot reports in a timely and precise manner to air traffic control. This is what is being asked of medicine.

What if consumer behavior also contributed to whether or not airlines receive payment? All passengers must stow their carry-on baggage safely and use their seat belts while seated. If they don’t follow instructions and are injured, it could affect the airline’s income.

While the airline and healthcare industries have distinct differences, the analogy helps illustrate the complexity of accountable payment systems. There are a lot of variables in the complicated shift to value-based care.

Healthy core EHR helps Mercy Health System manage complexity and growth

Dreher believes that well-designed solutions can manage the complexity of the accountable care environment in healthcare. “The key to success is simplified operations. Period,” he said.

Mercy Health System recognizes that having a well-built electronic health record (EHR) at its core is essential to the organization’s success, even as it experiences a period of rapid growth. “If you build the foundation well, you can grow,” Dreher said. “We can’t go back and redesign the EHR every time the organization wants to grow.”

Beginning in 2012, Mercy Health System rolled out Allscripts TouchWorks® EHR, Allscripts Practice ManagementTM and FollowMyHealthTMpatient portal. These tools and an accelerated implementation strategy enabled Mercy to successfully build 24 ACO reports in 90 days. They have also helped secure $1.35 million in Meaningful Use, PQRS and e-prescribing incentive payments.

Like many health systems, Mercy Health System understands the importance of rising to the challenge of accountable care. By continuously striving for better quality care, they’ll help improve health for all of their patients.

You can read more about Mercy Health System’s experience in a new case study.


Editor’s Note: We edited this post on June 16 to identify the correct amount of incentive payments.

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About the author

Greg White is Senior Vice President and General Manager for the TouchWorks® business unit at Allscripts. His organization supports the sales, services, implementation and general operations of this business unit. Greg joined Allscripts from Cerner where he most recently served as Vice President, Managing Director of Cerner’s Middle East and Africa business since 2010. Prior to his international assignment, Greg was Vice President, General Manager responsible for Cerner’s East Region client base. He was also Cerner’s Vice President, Laboratory Outreach Development, a role in which he integrated software operations from Gajema Software, a Charlotte, NC, firm where he served as President and CEO prior to Cerner’s acquisition of Gajema in 2004. Greg began his career as co-founder and President of ExecuTrain of Florida, a software training company recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of America’s top 500 fastest-growing private firms. He sold the business in 2000. Greg holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Alabama and attended the Executive Program for Growing Companies at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.


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