We've said it before, but the key is aligning all of those incentives in such a way that patients' health improves, and that fewer medical mistakes and unnecessary treatments or procedures occur.
Hospitals are also exploring partnerships with local and national employers who are interested in limiting—or cutting out entirely—the payer middleman role. Finally, the bigger systems are forming alliances and acquiring physician practices, home health facilities, labs, and even other hospitals in an attempt not only to standardize, but also to increase scale and decrease healthcare's high rates of waste and inefficiency.
But these are the innovators, the first movers. Not all can afford to take on that kind of risk. That's why it's important to learn from these early adopters—what's worked and what hasn't worked—because if you haven't already, you're going to have to taste commercial ACOs.
My colleagues are presenting a pretty interesting 90-minute webcast soon that deals with these very topics in minute detail. The speakers have already taken the dive into commercial ACOs from both the payer and the provider side, and you'll find that their insights are instructive and valuable.
I know there's still a lot to learn, but it's an exciting time to be in healthcare if you aren't happy with the status quo. Let's see what the innovators can—and have—achieved.