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ACOs and shared savings: Can IT get you there?



The accountable care organizations model can lead the U.S. healthcare system back into solvency by reducing duplicative and unnecessary procedures through having primary care physicians manage their patients' appointments -- all this while improving quality of care and rewarding providers with a percentage of the cost savings. At least that's the theory espoused in last year's healthcare reform, which authorized the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services leaders to create the ACO program. CMS leaders -- glass-half-full types when it comes to the potential of the ACO model -- explained at a recent informational webinar how that could happen, backing up their theories with stats from private insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts' ACO-like Alternative Quality Contract payment model. Out in the field, however, health IT leaders charged with implementing technologies to enable compliance with the complex health data tracking and reporting involved with ACOs lean toward the glass-half-empty side, at least when it comes to CMS's ACO proposed rule. They doubt the shared savings program CMS promises will be enough of a payoff to inspire a nationwide ACO movement.
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