Building An Effective ACO: Longitudinal Records Enable Collaboration

Naveen Sarabu | Government Health IT | December 24, 2013

Once an accountable care organization (ACO) or other collaborative care entity has laid the foundation for a robust health data exchange by ensuring the electronic capture of complete clinical and financial information at the individual provider level, the next step is to build the core of the structure – the longitudinal patient record.

Even if a physician or clinic is capturing patient health information in an electronic health record (EHR), the information is only valuable to a collaborative care organization if it can be aggregated with patient data from other sources and harmonized to produce a single, longitudinal record that presents a complete picture of a patient’s medical history. This record that includes symptoms, tests, diagnoses and treatments enables providers throughout the care continuum to assess the patient accurately to provide faster and more specific treatment plans.

The most logical starting point for any longitudinal record is the capture of lab and imaging orders and results. Because 70 percent of clinical decisions involve lab and imaging data, it is critical to ensure the inclusion of this information to provide a good beginning to a comprehensive longitudinal record.