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Does your ACO have the “IT” factor?

By Ken Buchanan

Where would we be without our IT departments? They literally and figuratively “keep the lights on.” We’re all guilty of taking our access and application availability, reasonable response times, secured networks and communications, and backup/recovery systems for granted. Provider Organizations in particular cannot operate without their IT departments.

Turning Chaos into Order

Operational processes create vast amounts of data. And that’s putting it lightly. Unfortunately, the transactional data is stored within disparate systems and is difficult to collect and analyze for strategic value. In other words, transactional data can appear chaotic to an organization needing information for decision support. This is where the IT department is expected to turn the data chaos into order. After all, ‘IT’ is the acronym for Information Technology. If information is not ordered for analytic use, it does not provide strategic value to the organization. From IT’s perspective, ‘ACO’ could mean, “Advancing Chaos into Order” instead of its intended “Accountable Care Organization.”

Reactive vs Proactive

ACO leadership is always looking for information that can answer their strategic questions. Is the ACO on track to be profitable? Are the critical trends moving in the right direction? What are the competitive threats? Where are the organizational and service gaps, and what are the actionable steps to improve the strength of the ACO?

Leadership presents these requests to IT and the supporting data analysts, and a corresponding report is generated. If the report is valued, it probably is added to a library of reports that will be generated on a regular basis, known as ‘reactive’ reporting. Some answers, however, lead to many more questions, which in turn leads to more requests from leadership. Unfortunately, this often results in long delays in finding answers, and can also result in definitional inconsistencies (Multiple ‘sources of truth’ can lead to flawed decision making).

“Here you go” vs “Did you know”

Reactive IT analysts become quite good at responding as if to say, “Here you go.” On the other hand, ‘proactive’ analysts go further by offering insights and not just answering questions. They progress from “here you go” to “did you know?”

An ACO will have greater success with an IT department that offers proactive support for decision making. This doesn’t require housing an army of analysts. But it will require a commitment to an intelligent analytics system that can rapidly identify root causes and negative trends, present actionable opportunities for improvement, predict outcomes, and support both financial and wellness risk management.

The ‘IT’ Factor

The ‘IT’ factor is something we usually associate with charismatic people in some form of leadership. We can think of it as “the gift of leadership that inspires, influences, and motivates others.” An ACO would do well to create an IT department that can turn the chaos of data into strategic information and can influence strategic direction by offering proactive insights from that information.

For an ACO to be truly successful, it really does need to have the ‘IT’ factor! Does your team have it? Connect with us to find out.