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ACO Lessons from Early Adopters Are Invaluable

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, March 2, 2012

For whatever reason, if you've decided that creating an accountable care organization structure is not on your immediate wish list, you're far from alone.

Many institutions are taking a wait-and-see approach, and can afford to. Just make sure your attitude is one of learning, not active avoidance, because what first might have looked like a flavor-of-the-month is becoming a regular healthcare business staple. And contrary to popular belief, much of that transformation is coming not from government, but from private market experimentation.


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Recently, I authored a free impact analysis report: ACOs: Tailoring Your Own Solution, based on detailed interviews with a group of top chief financial officers. We discovered that despite a generally tepid response to the prospect of ACO creation, coupled with the small test group of institutions that have been approved for the CMS ACO structures, plenty of hospital systems are experimenting with so-called commercial ACOs.

At the basic level, these constructs are little more than traditional insurance company/hospital contract negotiations, However, there's a big twist.

Risk.

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