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Q&A: Implementing Meaningful Use in an ACO

Joining forces with CHITREC By Eva Winckler, MPH, Samuel Ross, and Abel Kho, MD

John Venetos, MD, has been an independent physician since 1989 specializing in gastroenterology and hepatology. His passion for staying independent and competitive in today’s environment while helping other doctors do the same led him to create Independent Physicians’ ACO of Chicago in 2012. The accountable care organization (ACO) has grown from 100 members to nearly 300 physicians.

Q: How have you expanded the ACO so rapidly?

A: The ACO has grown through word-of-mouth and by working with leadership at provider organizations. Each physician contributes $500 to become an equal owner. That way, the new joiners know they are just as important as those who have been members since the beginning.

Q: What role does IT play in the importance of the ACO for member physicians?

A: Members trust the ACO's board to implement proven strategies for improving patient care and lowering costs—and they want to participate because they are getting something beneficial from the group. Making the most of an electronic health record (EHR) system is crucial for them, and meeting Meaningful Use (MU) is a big part of that.

Q: What goals do you have for your health IT?

A: The goal is to have all doctors reach Stage 1 and Stage 2 of MU, which will be a very important measurement of the ACO moving forward. CHITREC has been crucial in meeting that goal. Sam Ross, our clinical implementation manager, has helped several doctors. He attended open meetings and provided useful info about MU measures and how to achieve them.

Q: How can physicians get more information?

A: Physicians are welcome to come to our open meetings. Our website is and office phone number is 773-989-6262.

Eva Winckler is the outreach manager at CHITREC. Dr. Kho is co-executive director.

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