Slattery says patient accountability is a political land mine because "we've created a social system that supports the behavior that's counterproductive to health and wellness. Look at obesity." In that environment, he says it's very difficult to develop benefits and programs that can successfully incentivize appropriate behaviors and move patients to be more accountable to any care plans prescribed by their physicians.
There is general agreement among the survey respondents that organizations with ACOs will be better off in terms of cost control, patient outcomes, and patient engagement. However, respondents generally see no perceived advantage for ACOs in terms of patient loyalty or physician satisfaction.
Slattery expects that over time ACOs will provide advantages across the board as organizations adjust their models to balance the needs of their payers, providers, and patients. "Our focus is the triple aim. It will provide us with the equilibrium to out maneuver and out innovate our competition and to really enjoy the advantages of an ACO."
There still isn't a clear picture of how healthcare leaders expect ACOs to play a role in healthcare reform. There seems to be plenty of concern within the industry that ACOs are as much of a minefield as they are an opportunity to redefine healthcare deliver.
This article appears in the April 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.