ACOs, or accountable care organizations, are approved and regulated groups of physicians, hospitals and other providers that the government hopes will become units of health care. These units will be reimbursed for a patient’s given admitting hospital diagnosis until that diagnosis is fully treated even after discharge. The reimbursement will be shared by the institution and all providers who partook in the care of the patient. Both digital health and ACOs will be intertwined and become pivotal players in the future of health care. In addition, digital health will be critical to the success of ACOs. Here’s how:
- The reimbursement to ACOs for a patient’s specific diagnosis will be tied to the patient’s outcome, no longer to procedures performed or duration of stay. This will apply to post-hospital discharge services as well. Digitized technologies will be utilized to substitute for or assist monitoring patients post-discharge. Vital signs, blood monitoring of glucose, electrolytes, blood oxygen levels, ECG, and many other parameters will be digitally managed, and telehealth will visually connect patients and providers.
- Digital platforms will be used for coordination of care among providers from hospital discharge to those participating post-discharge. Primary care providers, specialists, outpatient facilities (rehab institutions, nursing homes, outpatient testing facilities, etc) will all be ‘on the same page’ with regards to the patient’s medications, progress and treatment plan. Digital health tools will also serve as a vehicle for closer communications between the patient and health care provider.
MHealth-derived information will then be seamlessly directed to the patient’s EHR, pharmacy, and insurer, thereby closing the loop of the spectrum of the important participants in the patient’s care.
- digital tools that the patient will use to encourage and support lifestyle changes, medication adherence platforms, and better patient-caregiver-provider communications will also ultimately result in a better patient outcome.
ACOs’ success critically hinges on IT for the appropriate tracking of the patient’s care. This applies to inpatient as well as outpatient situations. What mHealth will do, in summary, is to play an integral role in the post-discharge care of the patient from a clinical standpoint, assisting providers in the transmission of timely useful clinical data. In addition, it will be a toll that the patient will utilize to comply with provider instructions, and to afford better communication among providers, caregivers, and the patient. All of these will ultimately lead to a better patient outcome, which will be the benchmark of success of an ACO.