ACOs can take lessons from abroad

As the U.S healthcare system undergoes an industry-wide overhaul, hospital leaders can look across the pond for lessons in delivering high-quality, low-cost care, according to a new whitepaper released Monday by healthcare analytics firm MedeAnalytics.

That's because the U.K. also is carrying out major health reforms to improve the quality and lower the cost of care, largely focused on meeting the healthcare needs of a defined local population, just like ACOs here, Ken Perez, MedeAnalytics's director of healthcare policy, said in a recent presentation at the Becker's Hospital Review annual meeting.

The whitepaper looked at England's clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), which could save billions of dollars through reduced variation healthcare resource utilization--savings that could be reinvested in more cost-effective care models, according to a research announcement.

"In rounded dollar terms, the U.K. healthcare system could save $2 billion annually, and this could have implications for our nation, as we so urgently need to find viable paths to substantive savings, especially given the lack of many ACO cost-saving success stories," Perez said, Becker's Hospital Review noted.

The most successful CCGs will likely to pursue lower spending in the acute care setting, small changes rather than "big bang" solutions, adherence to proven care pathways, and rewards for innovations that lead to reduced costs and better outcomes, the whitepaper noted.

CCGs, which are somewhat similar to ACOs, can use data analytics to identify specific ways to reduce hospital spending and help improve access to and quality of care for the local population, the whitepaper concluded.

Like CCGs, data analytics is key to ACO success, as providers and payers need adequate data for a complete understanding of each patient's healthcare. Furthermore, achieving improvements in care quality and cost necessary for ACOs requires collection and analysis of patient data across the care continuum and pinpointing ways to improve, FierceHealthIT previously reported.

For more:
- download the whitepaper (.pdf)
- here's the research announcement
- check out the annual meeting presentation
- read the Becker's article