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5/17/2012
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Banner Health, Aetna Reach For ACO Gold

Banner Health Network joins forces with the insurance giant, taking advantage of analytics tools needed for its new role as an accountable care organization.

5 Key Elements For Clinical Decision Support Systems
5 Key Elements For Clinical Decision Support Systems
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Aetna recently announced an agreement with Banner Health Network (BHN) to provide technology that will support a health information exchange, improve patient data analytics, and add mobile connectivity. That combination of tools will help BHN offer services to more than 200,000 patients.

The May 10 announcement comes as the Banner Health Network, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based health system, transitions into an accountable care organization (ACO) through the Pioneer Accountable Care Organization initiative.

To advance its ACO goals, Banner will adopt technology and services from Medicity, ActiveHealth, and iTriage--all Aetna subsidiaries. The technology will support services offered to the 50,000 Medicare fee-for-service patients covered under the Pioneer ACO shared savings program as well as to the members in Aetna's ACO relationship with Banner Health Network.

[ Practice management software keeps the medical office running smoothly. For a closer look at KLAS' top-ranked systems, see 10 Top Medical Practice Management Software Systems. ]

Billed as the largest implementation of Aetna's provider and patient technologies to date, Dr. Charles Kennedy, CEO for Aetna Accountable Care Solutions, said Aetna's technology will connect with Banner's existing systems by creating a technology overlay that doesn't require replacement of the systems.

Instead, Aetna's software will rely on Banner's systems to collect patient data and present the information to physicians in an easily accessible way, while also conducting analytics to identify patterns and trends. Identification of those patterns and trends should help the organization cut costs and raise the quality of care.

By deploying Medicity's health information exchange (HIE) technology, Banner's clinicians can exchange data across a patient's entire care team. Kennedy said the HIE will connect to every electronic data source with relevant patient information including lab systems, radiology systems, electronic health records, and claims systems.

To improve its business intelligence capabilities, Banner will deploy the Active CareTeam from Active Health Manager, which gives physicians access to analytics on entire groups of patients using the CareEngine tool, which identifies specific evidence-based opportunities to improve care for individual members.

The CareEngine system compiles member data from a variety of sources, such as medical and pharmacy claims, lab results, and information provided directly from the member. The CareEngine analyzes this information to identify gaps in care, medical errors, and quality issues. The technology also allows physicians to access a desktop-based workflow tool to track, monitor, coordinate, and report on patient health outcomes.

"We use very advanced business intelligence tools to cull through that information and identify and eliminate any duplications, and then we create a single source of understanding of the patient based on clinical and claims data," Kennedy told InformationWeek Healthcare. "Organizations are just now in their infancy [with regard to] parsing that information and converting it into discrete data, but that's what we are successfully doing as a part of this initiative."

Banner Health will also beef up its smartphone and online appointment and pre-registration services for patients through iTriage, a mobile health app offered at both the iTunes App store and the Android Market.

Last December, Banner was selected as one of 32 health delivery organizations to participate in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Pioneer ACO initiative. This initiative will test the effectiveness of several innovative payment models as a way to help organizations provide better care for beneficiaries and work in coordination with private payers, while reducing growth in Medicare expenditures.

Banner Health Network operates 23 acute-care hospitals, as well as long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers, and an array of other services including family clinics, home care and hospice services, and a nursing registry. There are more than 2,600 Banner-affiliated physicians in the Phoenix metro area.

Earlier this month, 17 Banner Health facilities were recognized by HIMSS Analytics as having achieved Stage 7, the most advanced stage in the adoption of health information technology. At Stage 7, a health delivery organization is paperless, and can share clinical information via standard electronic transactions. The organization can also use data warehousing and mining techniques to analyze patient data to improve performance and advance clinical decision support.

"In order to succeed in the delivery of high-quality, high-experience, affordable care, we must integrate clinical activities across the patient's continuum of care. This requires data sharing among our providers, and the workflow integration that can result," Dr. Tricia Nguyen, chief medical officer for Banner Health Network, said in a statement. "Actionable data is the currency for change in healthcare."

The 2012 InformationWeek Healthcare IT Priorities Survey finds that grabbing federal incentive dollars and meeting pay-for-performance mandates are the top issues facing IT execs. Find out more in the new, all-digital Time To Deliver issue of InformationWeek Healthcare. (Free registration required.)

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