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It Takes A Village: Shared Accountability in Patient Care

Summer may still be blazing across most of the country, but autumn is just around the corner. There’s a lot to look forward to next season: cooler weather, evening bonfires, pumpkin-flavored food and drink, and some great holidays. But the fall months also mean the ICD-10 transition approaches ever nearer (37 days, but who’s counting?) and that medical practices have just one more quarter to reach their thresholds for quality reporting programs such as PQRS and Meaningful Use.

Many providers who we work with have lamented the increased responsibility imposed on them by the many new and updated government regulations in health care. Quality reporting programs can penalize providers whose patients are readmitted to the hospital and whose chronically ill patients have abnormal test results.

Quality reporting data is hugely important for both management of chronic disease as well as future research on improved patient outcomes. However, providers don’t hold sole responsibility for the success of their patients’ treatment; at the center of every care team sits the patient himself. The Institute of Medicine has advocated for a “shared accountability” system, in which the patient, the care team, and the health care system all have a role in creating a successful treatment plan to which the patient can and will adhere.

According to Dr. Harlan Krumholz, director of the Yale-New Haven Hospital Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, the goal of the physician in managing successful patient outcomes should be to help patients "make informed choices that are guided by their preferences, desires, and goals, and work with them to achieve [those goals].” While a patient’s personal health goals may not always align with the quality metrics outlined by CMS, both measures of success are important in treating patients and keeping them healthy.

Working in the field of health care technology, my personal goal is to provide doctors with the tools they need to effectively treat their patients. At pMD, we have tools to support multiple aspects of the shared accountability system. One of these tools gives providers a method to track their recently-discharged patients so that they can monitor their post-acute care and prevent a hospital readmission. Another tool assists physician practices with data capture for PQRS submission. While it’s important and exciting to constantly evolve and keep up with the ever-changing landscape of health care, it’s equally as important to continue to focus on the basics needs of patients and the people who treat them.