Mercy’s ACO Analytics Take Top Honor

Electronic health records make it easier

for doctors to coordinate a patient's care

Story by Mercy's Jennifer Harutunian

You may think the information your doctor types into your medical record is just that – a record of the care you’ve received. But Mercy has figured out how to use that information to keep you healthier, and now it’s won an award to prove it. Health Data Management magazine has recognized Mercy as an Analytics All Stars “Top Honor” for Accountable Care Project of the Year. This new award recognizes organizations and individuals that use analytics in innovative ways to improve the health of their patients and the financial performance of their organizations.

“Mercy has been transforming how it delivers care, and our selection as an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) gives us the opportunity to keep patients healthy and create better outcomes,” said Mercy’s ACO physician leader, Dr. James T. Rogers. ACOs are organizations formed by groups of doctors and other health care providers that pledge to coordinate care for patients covered by Medicare. In exchange, those providers have the opportunity to share in savings realized by working together to keep patients healthier while eliminating unnecessary expenses, like duplicated tests.

To effectively manage the ACO model, Mercy had to transform its data strategy beyond traditional data types and sources. No longer would a single source of patient data, the electronic health record (EHR), suffice. 

“Health care data is abundant, the problem is it exists in silos and lacks quality, structure and real-time access to give it here-and-now meaning to those consuming it,” explained Gil Hoffman, Mercy chief information officer. “So last year, Mercy embarked on an enterprise data strategy that would address the need to bring together disparate data sources, validate the quality of the data and then organize and deliver it in ACO and population health reports that are intuitive and actionable.”

Hoffman continued, “The game-changer this year is that we’ve taken these reports and integrated them into our Epic EHR.  Before, providers had to go to a separate reporting tool. Now, to a physician who spends all their time in Epic, the report is right there at the point of care.”

That report alerts doctors to potential health risks. “It gives us a to-do list for when the patient is here in the clinic office,” said Dr. Rogers. “For example, if a diabetic patient comes in for an unrelated issue, but hasn’t had their yearly screening, we know. Or if their Hemoglobin A1c, a measure of blood glucose control, is outside a certain threshold (which varies depending on age, sex, etc.), the report will alert us so we can intervene. Our goal was to bring together and reconcile as much information for outpatient care, and coordinate it for the physician and care team to act on it while the patient is here, filling any gaps in care. With this report integrated into our EHR – and others soon to be integrated like ACO scorecards – we’re more efficient and patients stay healthier.”

Mercy is currently developing the ability to click a data field from the report and hyperlink directly to the Epic EHR to order an overdue screening or test. 

A provider having this kind of in-house data capability is unique, according to recent KLAS research.  Of the health care providers KLAS surveyed, 68 percent of respondents said they were using third-party ACO solutions. KLAS also reports that ACO health care providers are continuing to look to best-of-breed solutions to fill analytics gaps in their electronic health record. Recognizing the demand for proven data solutions, Mercy has recently begun offering its health care analytics solutions and expertise – in addition to its commercial Epic EHR services –  to other hospitals in need. 

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