In a new KLAS report, “Accountable Care: Providers Forge the ACO Trail,” KLAS interviewed 197 providers at 187 organizations to get an early picture of how providers and vendors are piecing together accountable care and what creating an ACO will really mean for health care IT. While only a third of surveyed providers plan to pursue a formal Medicare ACO designation, the majority agrees that accountable care is the way of the future.

“Accountable care will touch every aspect of an organization,” said Jason Hess, author of the KLAS report. “Its changes have the potential of turning the health care world upside down from patient care to administration to revenue cycle management to IT infrastructure. The internal challenges appear endless. Unfortunately, planning an ACO is further complicated by the fact that the final government rules have not yet been published.”

There are no one-stop shops for providers’ ACO IT needs, especially since each ACO will be configured differently. Many providers are looking to leverage a combination of technology solutions to fill in the gaps and meet ACO requirements. That said, providers see some vendors as more prepared than others—with the most integrated rising to the top.

Top-tier health care vendors such as Cerner and Epic currently lead the way in provider confidence as being most ACO-ready. Despite a few integration and offering gaps, Cerner has already integrated many of the IT pieces needed to complete an ACO puzzle and is taking a proactive approach to working with individual needs of interested providers.

Epic is also perceived as being close to ACO-ready—with gaps found primarily in their analytic capabilities and their ability to share data with non-Epic systems. KLAS’ recent report also examines provider perceptions of ACO readiness for Allscripts (Eclipsys), CPSI, GE Healthcare, McKesson, MEDITECH, QuadraMed, and Siemens.

“Providers describe a variety of planned HIT purchases for their ACO projects including data warehousing and analytics, HIE, and patient portals,” said Hess. “Vendors whose offerings integrate best with providers’ in-house systems will top the selection lists going forward.”