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Hospitals Scrutinize ACOs

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, April 16, 2012

This article appears in the April 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Accountable care organizations, heralded as the cornerstone of healthcare reform, remain something of an enigma in the healthcare industry. While ACOs hold the promise of retooling the industry into a leaner, meaner cost-cutting, care-improving machine, there's still plenty of doubt that ACOs are the way to go, according to results from the 2012 HealthLeaders Media Accountable Care Organization Survey.

While 11% of respondents say they are already part of an ACO, for the rest that are not, just 39% of healthcare leaders say their organization plans to become part of an ACO. Rob Slattery is surprised by what he considers to be a low level of interest. He suggests that for the majority that is not interested in developing an ACO the focus may still be on the more defined Medicare Shared Savings Program and not so much on developing a commercial ACO. "They may have looked at the Medicare program and decided that they don't want to assume that type of risk."

Slattery is president and CEO of Integrated Solutions Health Network, which includes 2,000 physicians, 14 community hospitals, five skilled nursing facilities, and four ambulatory surgical centers, among other healthcare business lines. ISHN is developing an ACO as part of Mountain States Health Alliance, a 13-hospital system based in Johnson City, TN.

The survey shows that the organizations interested in ACOs are setting a fast track to have them operational. Some 11% were up and running in 2011 and another 57% are expected to come on board by 2014.

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5 comments on "Hospitals Scrutinize ACOs"


Art As Social Inquiry (4/20/2012 at 2:46 PM)
Recent statistics show that France gets the best outcomes while only spending 11 cents on the dollar. The US, the richest country ranks last of the first-world countries and spends the most [INVALID] 17 cents of every dollar. Just as Eisenhower was inspired by the German autobahns to create a great national highway system, we, in this country, might look to our European brethren to cherry pick the very best ideas for delivery of healthcare. They're doing it better. No, we are not the best in the world when it comes to healthcare - not when 50 mil go uninsured and 25 mil are under-insured. Time to swallow our ego and reinvent ourselves in a really big, creative, brave way when it comes to healthcare. And then maybe we can call ourselves the best in the world.

R Daniel King (4/19/2012 at 7:18 AM)
The present concept of an ACO is providers accepting riskier price controls than FFS and PPS price controls. Centuries of various attempts at price controls have proven that inflation, poor quality, shortages, lost talent, fraud, organized crime, limited access, etc. are deadly consequences. Health care is not immune. ACOs are not the cure and ObamaCare metastasizes the consequences making both dead concepts spending.

DonS (4/18/2012 at 1:23 PM)
Not surprising hospitals arent jumping on the ACO bandwagon. The premise is that an ACO will keep people healthier and OUT of the hospital. To reduce costs, it is not by trimming around the edges, but by eliminating the NEED for the care in the first place. Reducing admissions and bed days is the goal. Hospitals are not eager to see these succeed.