Why Accountable Care (and IT) Matters – a lesson from Montefiore

I’ve always been a big fan of hospitals and health systems that have physicians at the helm. I’ve had the distinguished opportunity to work for a few of them during my 30 year career. It’s not because physicians are always the best managers or business executives. But physicians do understand healthcare perhaps better than anyone else, and they also have a keen understanding of patients and human behavior. Perhaps that is why some of America’s best known, best run, and most highly regarded healthcare institutions are those with physicians in charge.

Case in point is Montefiore Medical Center in New York. Montefiore’s President and CEO, Steven M. Safyer, MD, shares some wisdom about Accountable Care Organizations in Hospital’s & Health Networks Daily on-line journal. In his article, Why Accountable Care Matters: The C-Suite Perspective, Dr. Safyer explains how Montefiore has been practicing Accountable Care since 1996 – long before that term became fashionable. In particular, I enjoyed seeing the following paragraph:

“Our extensive use of information technology, both in the hospital as well as in the ambulatory imagepractices, allows continued and prompt information across the provider network to manage the populations' health. This results in fewer unnecessary tests, procedures and hospitalizations. It also improves the patients experience, enhances the quality of care and lowers medical expense. Montefiore uses technology to increase provider engagement with their patients, not replace it.”

Thank you, Dr. Safyer. I couldn’t have made a better case for Health IT myself. It is delightful to see visionary leaders who appreciate the value that IT brings to the enterprise, not only for employees and clinicians, but also for the patients under their care. It is particularly rewarding to see senior physician executives as champions for IT in their organizations.

Of course there are many other attributes that define a successful Accountable Care Organization, the primary one being more perfect alignment of business incentives – with payers and providers working closely together or better yet, as one. Sure, information technology is only part of what drives successful organizations, but it is rewarding to see IT take its rightful place and be recognized for the exceptional value it adds. So hats off to Montefiore and Dr. Safyer! Congratulations on your good work.  

Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft

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