This is a companion article to the feature, “Laboratory Data in ACO Environments.” 

At an ACO formed by an independent physician association, the very first set of analytics developed in 2012 and 2013 was a simple search to find all diabetic patients with an A1c that was not under control. This initiative morphed into analyzing laboratory data to understand trends, such as how frequently patients’ A1c levels were tested and how many were moving from uncontrolled to controlled groups.

“We continue to look at newer reports that would provide us with both quality information and outcomes analysis,” said the CEO of the association. Currently, an in-house team of data analysts develops analytic tools. The medical director assigns analytic projects, which are then reviewed and validated by physicians and pathologists. “We take one sample report on a sample set of patients, make changes in the patient record, and see if the output of the report is what we expected,” said the CEO.

As analytics becomes more sophisticated, pathologists will likely play a more active role. Currently, pathologists help identify the data required to run reports, but future discussions will likely include creating reports that draw on 2 or more years of patient data and changes in treatment guidelines. “Pathologists will be more involved over time, helping figure out what was done and what was the protocol,” said the CEO.