Providers favoring ACOs charge ahead

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Although some healthcare leaders remain uncertain about accountable care organizations, the providers that are interested in ACOs are on the fast track to implementing the new care model, according to a HealthLeaders report released yesterday.

In a survey of 367 healthcare leaders across settings, only 11 percent of respondents are now part of an ACO. However, of those who aren't, 39 percent said their organization is planning to implement or join an ACO in the future, including the Medicare Shared Saving Program, a commercial shared savings program or Medicare Advantage/full-risk commercial plan.

They cited overwhelming optimism in that ACOs will improve efficiency, population health, patient experience and hospital-physician relations, and they are moving quickly from thinking about strategy and policy to thinking about practical matters such as infrastructure and implementation, the report noted.

Of those interested, respondents said their organization is or will participate in an ACO to engage physicians (56 percent), providers absorbing more of the risk (51 percent), market competition (48 percent), value-based purchasing (43 percent) and to provide more resources for clinical integration (43 percent), according to the report.

Healthcare leaders said, as part of the ACO, they anticipate including care coordinators or nurse navigators (77 percent), medical homes (72 percent), pay for performance (69 percent), clinical pathways (69 percent) and a disease registry (45 percent) as part of their models.

The survey comes on the heels of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' announcement on Tuesday that it selected 27 new Medicare Shared Savings ACOs and five Advance Payment ACOs, including 13 physician-driven organizations.

The American Medical Association is "extremely pleased" that many of the new ACOs will be physician led, stating that CMS' allowance of physicians to participate increases the number of groups forming Medicare ACOs.

"Physician practices are benefiting from the financial assistance offered by the advanced payment initiative, which was created as a direct result of the AMA's recommendation to CMS. The upfront payments offered through this program help with the cost of starting an ACO, which is especially beneficial for small physician practices," AMA President Peter Carmel said in a statement Tuesday.

For more information:
- check out the HealthLeaders Media report (.pdf)
- read the AMA statement

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