Experts: Physician-led ACOs may save more money

Not only do physician-led ACOs slightly outnumber their hospital-based counterparts, but they also may be superior at saving money, according to presenters at an ACO summit hosted by America's Health Insurance Plans, MedPage Today reported.

"I think physician-led ACOs inherently make markets more competitive because they have an opportunity to shift patients toward higher-value hospitals," Paul Ginsburg, PhD, president of the Center for Studying Health System Change, said at the meeting last week. "It means that a hospital market that might not have large competition going, all of a sudden, if there's a physician-led ACO, those hospitals have to compete on price for the allegiance of those physician-led ACOs."

What's more, presenters noted, is physician-led ACOs are not financially conflicted about reducing hospital admissions and emergency department visits.

Nonetheless, making ACOs work can be a daunting task for physician groups and other small providers. "The CMS rules are making it exceedingly difficult for an independent physician group to form an ACO," noted Charlie Baker, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary in Massachusetts.

Physicians, many of whom are leery about ACOs, also mat face a disadvantage in obtaining the technology and data analytics necessary to succeed in improving patients' health while saving money.

For example, Tina Buop, CIO of La Clinica de la Raza, a community health center in Oakland, Calif., spoke with FierceHealthIT earlier this year about how her organization uses predictive analytics to reach out to at-risk patients, such as those with diabetes, to ensure they are getting preventative care. She says an organization can go bankrupt quickly if it doesn't understand and address the risk posed by its patient population.

To learn more:
- read the article from MedPage Today
- see the description of the AHIP ACO Summit