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ACO Options to be Explored by Two Texas Health Systems

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, May 5, 2011

Texas Health Resources and Methodist Health System have signed an agreement to study the possible formation of a multi-provider accountable care organization.

The specific structure of the organization is not yet defined. The signed agreement allows the two health systems to form work groups to explore possible models for collaboration. According to Wendell Watson, THR spokesperson, it's too early to tell if the two health systems will follow the ACO model as defined by the federal Affordable Care Act. "The work groups will address that question. It's possible that we could use multiple models."

Although the regulations aren't final, an ACO as envisioned in the ACA will be a legal entity that includes a hospital and physicians that will, among other tasks, coordinate care, improve patient outcomes, and help reduce costs.

While 91% of healthcare organizations do not have an ACO today, 64% are planning one, and 39% will launch one by the end of 2012, according to a recent HealthLeaders Media Intelligence Report.

Watson said that when THR launched it 10-year strategic plan in 2006, one of its stated goals was to become an integrated provider and coordinator of care. "We've been looking at how we could collaborate with other providers and health systems to change how healthcare is delivered."

Although Texas Health Resources and Methodist Health System are both Dallas-based, their service areas don't overlap in north Texas, explained Kathleen Beathard, Methodist Health spokesperson. "We're complementary. In the current environment it makes sense for us to look at ways to come together."

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