Are ACOs fundamentally flawed?

Many of the hundreds of accountable care organizations being created around the country are doomed to fail, three healthcare experts argue in a commentary in The Wall Street Journal.

They maintain the ACO model is largely based on flawed assumptions about the personal and economic behavior of doctors and patients. The concept mistakenly assumes ACOs can be successful and save money even if doctors don't make major changes to how they provide care and patients don't change their behavior or assume accountability.

To achieve high-quality, low-cost care, the industry needs to embrace reform approaches that go beyond the ACO model, such as shifting more care to less-expensive walk-in clinics staffed by nurse practitioners, according to the WSJ commentary.

The healthcare experts also recommend revising protective licensing procedures to allow, for example, highly trained nurses to administer anesthesia for some types of procedures, rather than anesthesiologists, according to the WSJ commentary.

Meanwhile, just last week the National Committee for Quality Assurance announced its first six accredited accountable care organizations: HealthPartners in Minnesota, Billings (Mont.) Clinic, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Essentia Health in Minnesota, Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in Houston, and Crystal Run Healthcare in New York. The voluntary NCQA accreditation, based on an assessment of 14 standards and 65 elements, is valid for three years.

To learn more:
- read the commentary