Not that Smith ignores what's going on in Washington—far from it. "Probably the big things that will impact us coming up in the next couple of years will be the development and the maturity of the ACO process, and then of course what's going to happen when the [health insurance] exchanges come into play," he says.
One year into Advocate's ACO agreement with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, "We saw costs go down, so it benefitted both Blue Cross and Advocate, and I think there's further discussion now about how to make that product and that process even more effective in the coming years," Smith says. Advocate also joined the Medicare Shared Savings Program in May.
All inpatient hospitals run Cerner electronic medical record software out of a data center based in Kansas City. For outpatients, the Advocate Medical Group runs Allscripts. Advocate Physician Partners, which coordinates care between Advocate Health Care and more than 2,000 physicians on the medical staffs of Advocate hospitals, is deploying eClinicalWorks. That's right—three EMRs.
"I know you might ask the question, Why would you do that?" Smith says. "What it does is it gives our independent physicians the option of staying independent. They select if they use the software [and] they work with the vendor. If they choose to leave Advocate Physician Partners, they can do so and take the data with them. It remains under their control, as opposed to the Medical Group, in which everything is in one shared database."