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6/28/2011
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Humana, Allscripts Target EHR Costs

Humana helps subsidize physicians interested in implementing Allscripts' EHR system.

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A recent partnership between Humana and Allscripts Health Care Solutions to provide eligible physician practices with incentives for implementing Allscripts' EHR technology will help remove barriers for physicians who are looking to implement such a system.

Nearly one year ago, Humana partnered with Athenahealth in a similar initiative that encourages eligible physicians to join its Medical Home EHR Rewards Program. Under that agreement, Humana subsidizes physicians' implementation costs when they purchase athenaClinicals, an integrated practice management and EHR system. While this program has yielded some success, Humana executives saw the need to build relationships with other EHR vendors to speed up the adoption of EHRs while providing physician support.

According to Tim O'Rourke, vice president of health care provider engagement at Humana, his company continues to receive positive feedback in response to the strategic alliance and offering through Athenahealth, but he said more needed to be done.

"While the feedback is positive, we also recognize that our broad network of physicians and providers has their own distinctive need for specific functionality and/or a user interface within an EHR system, so expanding our relationships to include Allscripts and potentially other EHR vendors will allow Humana a greater opportunity to further our support to more of our network physicians and providers," O'Rourke said in an interview.

Through its partnership with Allscripts, which was announced this month, Humana will provide financial assistance to selected physicians for adoption of the Allscripts EHR as part of Humana's Medical Home EHR Rewards Program.

O'Rourke said that Humana is working with Allscripts to evaluate and identify eligible physician practice candidates. He also noted that through the Alliance, Humana will subsidize a portion of the implementation or upgrade cost of specific Allscripts products.

"This will allow these users expanded functionality and integration of additional data to further support advanced clinical decision making to improve outcomes, enhance care coordination to lower cost, and help improve the quality of life for our members and physicians' patients, O'Rourke said.

The Humana Medical Home EHR Rewards Program is designed for primary care physicians to recognize and encourage improved care coordination and promote more complete patient-centered care that is further supported through technology adoption and use. Through the program, Humana will provide the EHR subsidy, designate practices as a Humana Medical Home, and make additional financial rewards available to the practice by lowering cost and improving outcomes.

Under the Medical Home EHR Rewards Program, physician encounters are measured in conjunction with nationally recognized Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) quality measures, which are designed to improve the overall efficiency of the health care delivery system, while also evaluating other measures such as generic-drug dispensing rate, mail-order usage, readmission rate, and health-risk-assessment completion.

"As we progress towards a value-based system of health, this initiative with Humana will deliver the real-time information that physicians and other caregivers need to make the best decisions for their patients," Glen Tullman, chief executive officer of Allscripts, said in a statement. "Allscripts believes that the key to better health care is turning information into insights that physicians use to improve both the quality and cost-effectiveness of care."

Humana already delivers health information and clinical messaging about its members through the Availity Health Information Network. This information is available to physicians online via the Availity CareProfile, a longitudinal patient record that includes care provided by multiple treating physicians and facilities. Going forward, CareProfile information will be integrated with participating EHR vendor systems and presented at the point of care, to integrate with the physician workflow.

"Availity actually serves as our 'front door' for our relationships with Athenahealth and Allscripts. It helps create a basic level of standardization and provides a more coordinated means for receipt and delivery of data and information," O'Rourke said.

The Healthcare IT Leadership Forum is a day-long venue where senior IT leaders in healthcare come together to discuss how they're using technology to improve clinical care. It happens in New York City on July 12. Find out more.

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