IBM, Aetna roll out cloud-based clinical decision support system

Collaborative Care Solution should ensure compliance with future national e-health standards

IBM and health-insurance giant Aetna Inc. Thursday introduced a cloud-computing offering that analyzes patient data stored in electronic medical records (EMRs) and administrative data systems and sends updates on treatment progress, drug interactions and best practices to physicians.

IBM teamed with Aetna subsidary ActiveHealth Management to create the hosted Collaborative Care Solution product that provides clinical support for physicians, and allows patients to access their own data, without requiring an investment in new infrastructure. The Collabroative Care Solution supports so-called "evidence-based medicine," expected to become a government requirement in the second-phase of "meaningful use" rules for EMRs.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rules are expected to be completed in 2013. HHS said the rules, which aim to improve quality of care, require the exchange of patient data in structured formats, and the use of "evidence-based medicine," the use of standards and best practices for treating patients. The latter requirement would ensure that doctors use standard treatments on patients when necessary. For example, it's been known for years that patients should be prescribed aspirin after a heart attack, but there's currently no way of making sure that happens.

According to an IBM spokeswoman, the new cloud-based service is EMR system-agnostic. "It can connect to any EMR system through existing clinical systems, providing a deeper insight into the information in that EMR," she said.

The service is a combination of both IBM technologies and analytics software used with the ActiveHealth's evidence-based CareEngine clinical decision support system. The new cloud-based system can analyze medical insurance claims, medication and lab data, which would enable doctors to deliver more complete patient care, the IBM spokeswoman said.

The service also provides data on trends in how patients are responding to treatment for chronic conditions or adhere to drug regimens. It automatically alerts doctors to conflicting or missed prescriptions.

Sharp Community Medical Group., a San Diego-based health operator, is currently implementing Collaborative Care Solution to connect its 200 primary care physicians to EMR information and analytics tools.

"The current state of medicine is one of paper records, fragmentation and lack of patient information at the right location and at the right time," said Dr. John Jenrette, CEO of Sharp. "The patient is not engaged in their own health care and not connected to their clinical information and doctors in an effective manner. The work we are undertaking will create a system that is patient centric. It will provide the connection among primary care physicians, specialty physicians, hospitals and patients to achieve improved clinical outcomes while reducing costs."

According to IBM, the Collaborative Care tools allow hospitals and other health care providers to analyze and share clinical and administrative data through a health information exchange or a health system's intranet; measure, track and report on clincal quality; and engage patients in their care through the MyActiveHealth secure patient portal.

The cloud-based solution's advanced analytics can help physicians or health care organizations measure their performance against national or hospital quality standards. Demonstrating higher quality, lower-cost care is a crucial step in helping physicians obtain higher reimbursement rates from government payers and insurance providers. The solution not only helps meet current meaningful use criteria, but more important, supports physicians in meeting the more rigorous requirements in the future, IBM said.

The service can is priced at up to $1,000 per month per physician for unlimited use, the IBM spokeswoman said.

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Tags Gov't Legislation/RegulationregulationIBMU.S. Department of Health and Human Serviceshealth careAetnaindustry verticalsgovernmentGovernment/Industries

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