3 ways physician-led ACOs outperform hospital-led organizations

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Physician-led accountable care organizations can typically produce greater savings than hospital-led ACOs.

For doctors who want to stay independent, one option is participating in an accountable care organization, a move that can also help them succeed with MACRA, the new Medicare payment system.

Physician-led ACOs are showing promising results and have a number of advantages for participants, according to Medical Economics.

They provide a way for practices to handle increasing government regulations. ACOs can help with the administrative burden that comes with quality data reporting under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). There’s also strength in numbers in pooling resources to pay for technology, such as electronic health records.

Research shows physician-led ACOs have had good success. Here are some of the ways they can outperform hospital-led ACOs:

They typically can produce greater savings. For instance, physician-led ACOs can shop around and negotiate better prices on services, including diagnostics, specialists and post-acute care, Sue Feldman, Ph.D., an associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who conducts research on ACOs, told the publication. A hospital on the other hand uses its own services.

There’s no conflict. Doctors can save money by reducing emergency department and hospital admissions, which both generate revenue for hospitals. “It’s tough for a hospital to tell its physicians to use its emergency department and hospital less,” Matthew Bates, senior leader with Studer Group, a healthcare consulting firm, said.

They can quickly identify and respond to problems. That’s an advantage of being smaller and having fewer bureaucratic layers. For instance, MD Value Care, an ACO in Virginia, wanted to improve transitional care and created a program where care coordinators check in with recently discharged patients to schedule follow-up appointments and review medications.

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