A pending government directive may open new opportunities for managed services providers in healthcare. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced its proposed rule regarding Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). The document was published a PDF on April 7 in the Federal Register. The 40-plus page proposed rule builds upon the federal “meaningful use” program, which provides financial incentives to physicians and hospitals that adopt electronic health records (EHRs).
The government set 2011 as the initial deadline for meeting the meaningful use requirements for EHR deployment. The time crunch created an opening for MSPs to host rapidly deployable health IT systems.
The latest round of regs may also generate demand for managed services. ACOs are networks of doctors and hospitals that coordinate care for a group of Medicare patients. As emerging organizations, they may well need a range of technology services.
“I think the needs of these newly forming ACO organizations are going to create a tremendous opportunity,” said Jordan Battani, principal at CSC , which offers managed services, integration and management consulting among other offerings.
She said the ACOs won’t have much infrastructure and may turn to cloud-based approaches or other delivery methods that can help them quickly ramp up to meet the new requirements.
Meeting the government’s quality of care and cost savings requirements will qualify an ACO for “shared savings” payments. The proposed rule calls for ACOs to pursue a number of technology-related measures:
- ACOs are to “draw upon the best, most advanced models of care, using modern technologies, including telehealth and electronic health records.”
- The organizations should be able to electronically exchange care summary documents as patients transfer from one care setting to another -- both within and outside of the the ACO. Those care transitions are to be “consistent with meaningful use requirements under the EHR Incentive.”
- ACOs also need to develop evidence-based clinical guidelines, a requirement that could be met through “an integrated electronic health record with clinical decision support.”
Indeed, the ACO regs could open doors for MSPs. But the opportunity is geared toward specialized service providers that have taken the time to learn the market. That was certainly the case with meaningful use. The new ACO requirements, if anything, raise the bar for MSPs.
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