Does EHR Choice Matter for ACO’s?

There’s a really interesting article on Nextgov that talks about a CSC report that looks at the role of health IT and EHR software in Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). The most valuable part of the article is this list of items that an EHR must enable or allow to support an ACO:

  • Clinical information and point-of-care automation, with integrated ambulatory and inpatient records and a central repository for clinical data.
  • Enterprise master data management and integration, with a population management repository, a master person index and a master provider index.
  • Tools to enable participation in a health information exchange.
  • Patient engagement tools, including secure messaging, e-visits and tele-visits, social media, patient portals and mobile health applications.
  • Care management and coordination tools, including referral and request tracking, provider-to-provider communication, medication reconciliation and case- and disease-management applications.
  • Performance management tools, including integrated business and clinical intelligence and analytics.

To be honest, as I look through this list of EHR items, I can’t say that any of them really stick out to me as impossible for any EHR to achieve. In fact, I’d say that they’re quite achievable by almost all EHR software vendors.

The only partial fear I have reading through the list is that some of the points depend on an EHR vendor working with other EHR software vendors. In most of the cases, these are large hospital EHR vendors that have often worked in very closed environments.

The reason this is a cause for concern is that even the best EHR software in the world won’t be an effective ACO and won’t meet the above requirements if the large EHR software vendors don’t work with them to connect their system.

Maybe this isn’t something we should be too concerned about since the hospital client will be motivated to get their EHR vendor to work with the other even small EHR vendors in order to make the ACO happen and get access to the extra reimbursement. However, my gut tells me that this won’t be the case and there will be stories where EHR software is basically shut out of the ACO based on the large EHR vendors decision to not work with them.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • I don’t think we’ll be seeing any free EHRs enter the ACO market.

    It appears the ACO EHR market will have to be supplied by one of the big boys…those that mostly deal with hospitals would be my guess.

  • John: your gut is right. The big fish EHRs aren’t going to suddenly open their doors. At best, they’re just going to make the “sweet heart” deals for the local private offices a little sweeter (i.e., “Let’s try to shoehorn this Epic/GE monstrosity into another 3-doc primary care practice…”).

    This is exactly what’s happening NOW. I can think of a dozen places, easily, where practices are being told that in order to participate in anything (hospital priv, IPA rates, you name it), they have to jump in with the chosen vendor.

    Interfaces or integration with another EHR vendor? Ha.

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