3 reasons ACOs will thrive

Although the Medicare Shared Savings Program has many flaws, including setup and operating costs, and at least two more Pioneer accountable care organizations (ACOs) may drop out of the model, ACOs show great promise for improved healthcare delivery, according to Paul Keckley, Ph.D., managing director of the Navigant Center for Healthcare Research and Policy Analysis.

The latest data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) show that although the program generated $411 million in total savings in 2014, three in four ACOs didn't save Medicare money, Keckley writes in a blog post for Pulse Weekly.

The program has fundamental problems, he admits, including the fact that Medicare patients have no idea they are enrolled in the model and therefore can't provide feedback to providers. However, that doesn't mean the program won't survive. In fact, he writes, the program is probably "the most significant foundation in the transformation of the U.S. health system" for three reasons:

It offers potential for real cost savings: The ACO program may be the best way that CMS can slow the growth of Medicare costs, Keckley writes.

Eliminates unnecessary care: The model encourages clinicians to work together in teams to coordinate patient care and is based on evidence-based practices that will reduce unnecessary admissions and tests, according to the post.

Promotes a different primary care model: The program puts an emphasis on team-based care that focuses on preventing illnesses, rather than just treating them, according to Keckley. 

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