As Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) take on more risk under the new Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), they must provide quality care while generating cost savings. This challenge is especially pronounced within the fast-growing senior population, the group most likely to experience a serious or advanced illness and who often need extensive healthcare services.Ironically, this high-cost population represents an opportunity for ACOs to remain viable in the revised MSSP environment, and many organizations are making programmatic changes to achieve their fiscal goals and improve quality. As a result, they are now beginning to adopt innovative models that leverage palliative care: specialized care for seriously ill members that provides relief from symptoms and stress, and offers medication management, care coordination and other support to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.This is precisely where specialized HIT capabilities can facilitate ACO efforts to push beyond the traditional confines of referral-based, in-hospital palliative care. While acute care palliative programs are good for many individuals, they fall short in meeting ACO broader needs to scale for larger populations, impact quality ratings or meet the goals of Population Health Management (PHM).Conversely, specialized HIT facilitates the introduction of new palliative care models that move patients with a serious or advanced illness into the home setting where many people prefer to be at the end-of-life. With HIT facilitating the transition to structured, community-based palliative care, ACOs can make this transformational improvement that benefits patients while improving fiscal and quality performance.

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