ACO status doesn't equal effective population health management

The fact that just one in four accountable care organizations (ACOs) qualifies for a bonus shows that ACO status "is just one step toward becoming an effective population health manager," according to a blog post by The Advisory Board Co.

That was one of four "takeaways" from looking at the financial and quality performance of ACOs joining the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) in 2012-2013. Pioneer and MSSP ACOs saved almost $400 million and Medicare ACOs improved in quality and patient experience across the board, according to the report released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The other takeaways:

  • ACOs are getting better over time. ACOs that joined the MSSP program earlier were more likely to qualify for a bonus, and more likely to receive a larger bonus.

  • Quality reporting pays. Meeting and reporting quality measures "is critical to earning a bonus in MSSP."

  • MSSP success doesn't necessarily equate to success in population health, even for ACOs with previously experiencing success with risk-based payments.

A study published early this year found that ACO-style care had more success that traditional care in reducing avoidable hospital admissions and shortening hospital stays.

For more information:
- here's the blog post