EHRs Essential to ACOs Part I

March 18, 2011, 8:29 AM

Introduction to EHRs

In continuing our discussion of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), over the next several posts we will discuss what will be an essential element in the operation and success of ACOs: Electronic Health Records (EHRs).

EHRs are electronic versions of a patients medical history that are maintained by a provider over time. EHRs may include key administrative clinical data relevant to a patients care such as demographics, progress notes, problems, medications, vital signs, past medical history, immunizations, lab data, and radiology reportsto name a few.

EHRs automate access to patient information and work to streamline a physician groups workflow. Most important to the future success of ACOs, EHRs support other care-related activities directly or indirectly through various interfaces that include evidence-based decision support, quality management, and outcomes reporting. Later on in our discussion of ACOs and EHRs, we will address exactly how these interfaces will play such a crucial role in the success of ACOs. However, in our next post, we will discuss the EHR incentive payment programs for physicians that were authorized in 2009. --Christopher L. McLean