ACO development grows 38% nationally

The accountable care organization (ACO) trend still is rising with more than 200 identified ACOs in the nation, according to intelligence business firm Leavitt Partners. Located in 45 states and the District of Columbia, ACOs total 221 partnerships, up from 160 ACOs in 40 states in November 2011, showing a 38 percent increase in only six months, according to a report released Thursday.

Most of the ACOs are coming from the private sector rather than from the government, outnumbering them four to one. Although the Medicare ACO model is an outgrowth of the accountable care movement, it's not a driving force behind it, Leavitt Partners noted.

Of the 221 ACOs, 148 are single provider ACOs (67 percent), 43 are multiple-provider ACOs (19 percent), 17 are insurer ACOs (8 percent) and 13 are insurer-provider ACOs (6 percent).

"The consistent growth in the number and variety of organizations adopting accountable care demonstrates the momentum of the ACO movement," Andrew Croshaw, a partner and managing director of the healthcare practice at Leavitt Partners and one of the study authors, said in a company statement. "Many providers appear to believe the accountable care model is an important component of the future of American healthcare." 

Hospitals are taking the lead as the sponsoring organizations, growing from 99 to 118 ACOs as the primary backers. However, in the past eight months, the number of ACOs sponsored by physician groups has nearly doubled from 38 to 70 ACOs. Insurer-sponsored ACOs remain steady.

Although the number of ACOs continues to grow, it's difficult to determine their success.

"As ACOs become firmly established, it is increasingly important to measure the results of different models," the report noted.

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