Tag: Accountable care organizations

Skip to articles

An accountable care organization (ACO) is a group of doctors, hospitals and health care providers who work together to provide higher-quality coordinated care to their patients, while helping to slow health care cost growth. It is characterized by a payment and care delivery model that seeks to tie provider reimbursements to quality metrics and reductions in the total cost of care for an assigned population of patients.

The ACO may use a range of payment models capitation, fee-for-service or bundled payments, etc.). The ACO is accountable to the patients and the third-party payer for the quality, appropriateness and efficiency of the health care provided. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), an ACO is “an organization of health care providers that agrees to be accountable for the quality, cost, and overall care of Medicare beneficiaries who are enrolled in the traditional fee-for-service program who are assigned to it.”

The success of the ACO model in fostering clinical excellence while simultaneously controlling costs depends on its ability to “incentivize hospitals, physicians, post-acute care facilities, and other providers involved to form linkages and facilitate coordination of care delivery, according to A National Strategy to put Accountable Care into Practice. Health Affairs by Dr. Mark McClellan, former administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). By increasing care coordination, ACOs can help reduce unnecessary medical care and improve health outcomes, leading to a decrease in utilization of acute care services.

Healthcare quality delivered by an ACO is defined by CMS via five domains. They are “patient/caregiver experience, care coordination, patient safety, preventative health, and at-risk population/frail elderly health.”

An ACO’s patient population will primarily consist of Medicare beneficiaries. In larger and more integrated ACOs, the patient population may also include those who are homeless and uninsured. Patients may play a role in the healthcare they receive from their ACOs by participating in their ACO’s decision-making processes.

U of Florida Health Improves Patient Care with PGx Testing

CEO SUMMARY: Since 2011, the University of Florida Health System has used pharmacogenetic test (PGx) results to guide physicians when they prescribe certain drugs. This initiative has improved patient outcomes, reduced the overall cost per episode of care, and gained partial reimbursement from health insurers for PGx test claims. As this testing becomes more widespread, clinical

View Article

Sonic Uses Lab Data, Patient-Contact Tools, to Improve Outcomes

CEO SUMMARY: In its work for a federally qualified health center, Sonic Healthcare USA helped physicians use a data-driven approach to population health management that incorporated integrated financial and clinical analytics. Also, Sonic developed technologies that give ordering physicians clinical decision support and targeted patient engagement tools. It then developed a way to contact patients

View Article

Project Santa Fe Labs Deliver Value with Tests

CEO SUMMARY: No bigger threat looms over the financial security of the nation’s clinical laboratories than healthcare’s transition from fee-for-service payment to value-based reimbursement. To navigate that transition successfully, medical labs and pathology groups will need to adopt the Clinical Lab 2.0 model. Member labs of Project Santa Fe are themselves working to develop and

View Article

Medicare Part B Lab Test Prices Versus Budgeted Payment

THERE IS AN IMPORTANT QUESTION THAT lab industry magazines and news sources have failed to address: How many years are left before Medicare officials drop fee-for-service payment for clinical lab testing?

On January 26, 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a press release declaring an ambitious target. “HHS has set a goal of tying 30% of traditional, or

View Article

Can Clinical Laboratories Adjust To ‘New’ Healthcare System?

CEO SUMMARY: Month by month, there is increased clarity in the path the American healthcare system will follow as hospitals, health systems, and physicians integrate clinical care, manage populations, and practice personalized and precision medicine. While these changes play out, clinical labs and pathology groups will need to align their diagnostic services to meet the

View Article