CMS releases first ACO outcomes data

Accountable care organizations have had varied success so far with diabetes and heart disease patients, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of Medicare data.

Medicare's ACO quality data track 33 different quality measures, including quality of doctor coordination, level of unnecessary patient harm, patient experience and whether patients receive the right preventive services, according to the article. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Friday released data on five of these measures collected from 141 ACOs in 2012. The first four measures relate to outcomes on patients with diabetes, while the fifth concerns heart disease.

Medicare declined to release data for some measures because of concerns they would be difficult to understand or inapplicable, according to the article, and did not publish data on other measures, such as those concerning cholesterol levels, because of changing clinical standards.

On average, the ACOs met their goals for between 65 and 75 percent of patients, depending on the measure, according to KHN. The ACO for the Minneapolis-based Allina Health was the overall best performer on diabetes measures, while a Wisconsin ACO formed by Bellin Health and ThedaCare was the leader in keeping blood sugar down among patients with diabetes, meeting the target for 84 percent of patients.

"Offering a strong set of meaningful quality measures on the site will ultimately help consumers make decisions," Patrick Conway, M.D., CMS' chief medical officer, said in a statement, "and it will encourage quality improvement among the clinician community, who shares CMS's strong commitment to the best possible patient care." 

Overall, the ACOs did not perform as well as 66 large medical groups, which are part of a similar Medicare quality program, according to David Muhlestein, director of research at consulting group Leavitt Partners.

"A lot of these ACOs are pretty new at this," Muhlestein told KHN. "Not only are they trying to figure out how to manage care, they're figuring out how to work together." 

Earlier this year, CMS released data showing Pioneer and Medicare ACOs saved nearly $400 million in 2012, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the KHN article
- here's the ACO quality database
- read the CMS statement