"The ACO model really gets at bending the cost curve, which is so vital to achieving a sustainable system," Fisher said. "Only health systems that can slow their spending growth, compared to previous years, will have the opportunity to receive shared savings."
Norton-Humana ACO already have identified several initial areas of emphasis, including improvements in preventive screenings and tests, such as mammograms, and vaccinations, better management of chronic illnesses, such as heart failure, more effective treatment of common problems, such as back pain, use of generic drugs, and improved access to the appropriate level of care, rather than emergency department treatment.
The Brookings-Dartmouth team will evaluate the pilots to see how ACOs can impact payment reform, with the hope that a model can be replicated across the nation, building on health reform legislation which will likely make ACOs a voluntary option with Medicare participation in 2012.
Norton Healthcare is the region's largest hospital and healthcare system, with 44% market share, and includes five Louisville hospitals; 12 Norton Immediate Care Centers; 10,900 employees; more than 400 employed medical providers; and nearly 2,300 total physicians on its medical staff.