Can close monitoring of the sickest patients save ACOs money?

The jury is still out on whether accountable care organizations (ACOs) will cut healthcare costs, but ACOs are betting that close monitoring of the sickest patients can avert at least some costly emergency department or hospital stays. A Reuters article looks at the case of 69-year-old Sandy Wright of Mackinaw, Ill., who has been hospitalized more than a dozen times since she was diagnosed in 1997 with a rare autoimmune disease. Wright was one of the first patients of the Pioneer ACO created by OSF Healthcare of Peoria to be assigned a nurse case manager, who works closely with her to try to manage her health. After five hospitalizations over three months last year set off by an infected hip implant, Wright was only hospitalized once in the following three months. OSF has hired an actuarial firm to help identify more high-risk patients to work with one of the ACO's 35 care managers. Article