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Norton Healthcare, Humana Launch ACO Pilot

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, November 24, 2010

Louisville, KY-based Humana Inc. and Norton Healthcare jointly announced this week that they have launched the region's first commercial Accountable Care Organization.

The Louisville pilot ACO, one of five such sites in the nation, was selected by the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at the Brookings Institution, and The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. 

"Norton Healthcare is proud to be a participant in the Brookings-Dartmouth ACO Pilot Project and we feel this is a tremendous opportunity to participate in an alternative model for health reform," said Steve Hester, MD, Norton Healthcare CMO. "Considering our healthcare system's industry-leading commitment to measuring and openly reporting on the quality of our care; our progress toward a system-wide integrated electronic medical record; and our large base of employed primary- and specialty-care physicians, Norton Healthcare was the logical choice in our region to be an ACO pilot participant."

The other pilot sites include Carilion Clinic, Roanoke, VA; Tucson Medical Center, Tucson, AZ; HealthCare Partners Medical Group, Torrance, CA; and Monarch HealthCare, Irvine, CA. Humana has worked with Brookings-Dartmouth since 2008 on exploring the ACO concept and other innovative payment models.

"Norton Healthcare's work in developing an integrated health care delivery system and Humana's commitment to continuous improvement in quality provide a strong foundation from which to pilot the payment reforms central to ACOs," said Elliott Fisher, MD, director of the Center for Population Health at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

The Brookings-Dartmouth team, led by Fisher and McClellan, is working with Humana and Norton Healthcare to offer technical and strategic support in the implementation of the ACO model. Each ACO site defines the patient population it serves and establishes a spending target that reflects the predicted costs for their patients. The goals of ACOs are to improve efficiency and effectiveness of care and slow spending growth. ACO providers who can demonstrate that they meet these goals will receive in return a portion of the savings achieved.

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