ACOs get mixed reviews from docs

While the jury is still out on accountable care organizations (ACOs), physicians have mixed opinions on the benefits of the ACO model, according to athenahealth's "Physician Sentiment Index." The study found a greater percentage of physicians (54 percent) think shifting to an ACO would positively affect quality care.

Those findings match the experience of Atrius Health, a Pioneer ACO in Massachusetts that found better quality and patient care with the adoption of accountable care, according to EHR Intelligence.

"Quality really is front and center" Emily Brower, executive director of Accountable Care Programs at Atrius Health, told EHR Intelligence. "That's very different than some of the capitation models where when there was payment for quality it was sort of in a separate bucket. It was on the side. Here quality is at the center," she said.

However, according to the index, a large percentage of physicians think ACOs would hurt profitability (50 percent), efforts required to get paid (63 percent) and cash flow (55 percent).  Even though physicians do not expect to receive more profits, experts have previously claimed physician-led ACOs might be superior at saving money than their hospital-based counterparts.

While a lot of physicians still aren't happy with the ACO model, the percentage of physicians who report a switch to ACOs would negatively affect their practice reduced greatly from 2012 to 2013. In addition, when it comes to patient care and financial impact, independent physicians have a much more negative attitude toward the shift to ACOs than employed physicians.

The index also found this year more physicians say they are familiar with ACOs as compared to 2012. In fact, 63 percent say they are somewhat or very familiar with ACOs, or participate in one. Last year, physicians did not participate in an ACO and only 57 percent were somewhat or very familiar with the model.

To learn more:
- here's the report
- look at the EHR Intelligence article