Unanswered questions about the future of accountable care organizations

It's still up in the air when the new proposed rule for the most popular program of the accountable care organization (ACO), the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), will go into effect. Back on July 3, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued its 2015 Physician Fee Schedule, adding revisions to the MSSP.

While early results from both public and private ACOs show promise of improving care while reducing costs, the Morning Consult highlights three questions about the future of ACOs that remain unanswered, including:

Who takes the cake: Physician or hospital-led ACOs?

Hospitals seem like the obvious choice to lead MSSP ACOs, the article notes. Compared with physician groups, hospitals typically have greater access to electronic data and better analytic capabilities. But it turns out that physician-led groups that run ACOs have clearer incentives and stronger relationships with their patients, notes the Morning Consult.

Meanwhile, many payers--including Humana and Atrius Health, which launched its own ACO in 2012--are skipping to the head of the line by crafting their own accountable care models, as FierceHealthPayer has reported. 

Will ACOs ever take off their training wheels?

The intricacies of ACOs can be daunting for providers. Many providers struggle to understand the basics, such as how to collect data across the entire healthcare system. But, the article notes, other providers view ACOs as a stepping stone to establishing their own health plans.

Again, payers are taking the lead in this arena, as well. For example, to address data coordination, many insurers and providers are developing data integration strategies to allow for real-time care coordination and data monitoring.

Humana also understands the need to marry providers' clinical expertise with Humana's business views to drive ACOs and integrated care, Humana Chief Medical Officer Roy Beveridge told FierceHealthPayer in an exclusive interview earlier this year.

For more:
- here's the Morning Consult article