Anthem, HealthCare Partners ACO saved millions

California-based Anthem Blue Cross and HealthCare Partners' accountable care organization saved $4.7 million during the first six months of 2013, HealthCare Partners announced.

The partnership began in 2012 and emphasizes coordinating care. "The current fragmented healthcare system does not result in the best care possible," Anthem spokeswoman Peggy Hinz previously told FierceHealthPayer after the insurer announced its plan. "ACOs financially incent healthcare professionals to deliver superior quality care to patients by encouraging greater collaboration among physicians, hospitals and health insurers and, more importantly, by paying for superior health outcomes," she said.

Anthem's 14 ACOs across California, which provide care to 55,000 PPO patients, achieved savings through reduced hospital admissions (down 4 percent per 1,000 members), fewer hospital inpatient days (down 18 percent) and a reduction in lab tests (a drop of 4 percent), notes the announcement. The program also saw an increase in preventive health screenings and better management of chronic disease.

The savings are notable because PPO patients can see doctors outside of the ACO. This is different from other ACO programs that cater toward the HMO population.

"HealthCare Partners and Anthem have proven that the ACO model in the commercial space can be successful if focused on improving quality outcomes and increasing patient satisfaction while reducing costs," Tom Paulsen, M.D., executive medical director of HealthCare Partners, said Friday in the announcement.

Another key factor in the program's success is that Anthem pays HealthCare partners an additional fee for its care coordination efforts, reports the Los Angeles Times. Additionally, Anthem shares more data with medical groups so they're better informed about their patients' conditions.

For more:
- here's the announcement
check out the LA Times piece