An integrated delivery network (IDN) is a formal system of healthcare providers and facilities that offer both health care services and health insurance plans to patients in a defined geographic area (i.e. a defined patient population).
In an IDN, a set of physicians work with hospitals to form a healthcare ecosystem where people can receive any type of care they need from one single “brand” of healthcare provider.
Ultimately, the goal is holistic treatment.
Characteristics of large IDN’s
Large IDNs often share five traits:
- Provider Alignment: centralized control of physicians and common branding across facilities
- Continuum of Care: many services for patients – from preventative care, to urgent care, to various therapies and treatments
- Clinical Integration: communicate within a unified electronic health record system
- Regional Presence: large enough to control large portions of a market
- Reimbursement: accept some risk with payers to push for better patient outcomes
Accountable care organizations
An accountable care organization (ACO) is a form of IDN. It is a network of doctors and hospitals that voluntarily come together to share financial and medical responsibility for providing coordinated care to patients with the goal to limit unnecessary spending.
More than simply a network of providers, an ACO focuses on streamlining and optimizing the quality of care. This is done by using data and best practices to reduce duplication of medical services, close gaps in care, deliver effective preventive care, and coordinate services across the care continuum, thus producing better outcomes for healthcare dollars spent.
IDN’s and population health
Population health takes into consideration the health of a particular region. It doesn’t just consider overall health, but also how it varies within a particular group.
In order to improve on hospital performance metrics (such as quality scores and clinical outcomes), both IDN’s must monitor patient population health.
As regional organizations, IDN’s are in a unique position to assess the particular needs of the local population. These insights allow IDN’s to focus on the most prevalent health issues in their communities, such as diabetes, asthma, or other chronic conditions.
These days, a big concern on everyone’s mind is the coronavirus. As large, coordinated medical groups that value quality over quantity of healthcare, IDN’s would be wise to use secure patient outreach to communicate with their patients about the CDC’s recommended precautions.
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