ACOs only as good as their participants

Accountable care organizations (ACO) may not be the universal cure-all for healthcare reform, suggests a New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) editorial article, published last week. Drawing an analogy to bicycles, the authors contend that results are only as good as the athlete. "If an ACO were a bicycle, its wheels, spokes, and gears would be the criteria used by payers such as Medicare to determine providers' eligibility, the methods used to assign patients to a given ACO, and the manner in which financial bonuses are calculated."

Accountable care must adapt to individual patient needs, coordinate care team efforts, and use information technology to its fullest, according to the article. "For payment reforms to achieve their full potential," the authors wrote, "careful attention should be devoted to developing the organizational and technological competencies of the 'athletes' that will use ACOs to achieve accountable, high-value care." Editorial