<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://dc.ads.linkedin.com/collect/?pid=1043001&amp;fmt=gif">


Get a Demo
Stephen O'Connor

By: Stephen O'Connor on April 22nd, 2016

Print/Save as PDF

3-Letter Acronyms You Need to Know: HIE, ACO, MSO, IPA, RCM

Healthcare Advice | Value-Based Care

HIE, ACO, MSO, IPA, RCMIn a profession like medicine where there are so many unique terms and important phrases to use on a regular basis, doctors, nurses and others find themselves using acronyms to speed up communication. 

Uttering the same long string of words every few minutes can become wearying, so we develop a new shorthand to speak and write more effectively. However, there are so many acronyms in medicine that you might feel like you need a guide to process the alphabet soup that can arise when using so much jargon. 

In fact, many professions develop a vocabulary that is all their own, and knowing what the words mean is part of how you gain entrance into the group. Outsiders don’t need to know what the terms mean, while full-fledged members will not be stumped when they run across an acronym specific to their work.

Here are 3-letter acronyms that you definitely need to know:


An electronic, online health information exchange is referred to as HIE. Professionals ranging from doctors and nurses to pharmacists and insurance managers use HIE to transmit and access vital healthcare information about patients

Whether it is to verify that a patient can take a medication without worry of contraindication or to check on the progress of a treatment, HIE speeds up how medical professionals connect with the information they require.


The term ACO stands for Accountable Care Organizations and these are groups of health care providers that include doctors and hospitals. They are designed to help these professionals and institutions provide improved quality of care of patients in the Medicare program. 

This voluntary program was set up by the government to reduce waste, such as to avoid duplicating services while seeing to it that each patient gets the proper care and treatment at the correct time.


If your focus is on practicing medicine, you want to spend as little time and mental energy on the non-business aspects of your practice. This is where a management services organization comes in. The MSO gives you business support and because it takes care of business for multiple doctors or physician groups, it can provide services less expensively because of the economy of scale.


Another important 3-letter term to keep in mind is IPA, which stands for independent physician association. Physicians working in private practice band together to form their own IPA to give them more bargaining power when arranging for contracts with insurance entities. 

The IPA has its own administrative staff, so the doctors won’t need to allocate resources on their own. This saves time and energy. Doctors may find they can get better deals when in an IPA than when negotiating with insurance companies as part of a typical physicians network.


Revenue Cycle Management or RCM is an acronym you will frequently hear being bandied about in medical practices. This is because without an RCM system in place, you will find it difficult to reach your optimal cash flow. RCM is not just about billing.  Using sophisticated software designed specifically for medical organizations, RCM involves how your office handles and processes claims as well as how it obtains payments in a timely fashion.

A crucial aspect of a person’s professional identity has to do with appearing proficient and knowledgeable. A quick way to see if people are professional is to observe how familiar they seem to be with terms commonly used in their industry. By paying closer attention to new acronyms and looking up their meaning when you are unsure about them, you’ll gain more knowledge as well as respect from your colleagues.

Key Takeaway

  • The medical industry has its own particular jargon, and sometimes it can seem like you are facing alphabet soup with all the abbreviations.

  • An HIE is a health information exchange for facilitating rapid transmission of patient information.

  • ACO means Accountable Care Organization, formed by a group of doctors or hospitals to improve healthcare delivery to Medicare patients.

  • MSO is a management services corporation and physicians form them to outsource the business side of their job.

  • An IPA or independent physician association helps doctors negotiate better terms with insurance companies.

  • Revenue Cycle Management or an RCM system is used to improve the flow of cash in your medical organization.



About Stephen O'Connor

As a Director of Digital Marketing at Advanced Data Systems Corporation, Stephen spends his day's planning, writing, & designing resources for the modern healthcare professional. He has a strong affinity for snow crab legs, the ocean, and Rutgers Football.