ACOsEpisodes of CarePopulation HealthValue-Based Health Care
October 20, 2021

New ACO Playbook: How to Supercharge Your ACO

Throughout the last decade of ACO development, many have struggled to identify what actually makes ACOs successful. Analyses have been fraught with conflicting conclusions. Studies have tagged type of ownership (hospital-based vs. physician-led), geographic region or urban-rural factors, primary-care-only versus specialty participation, ACO payment model type, patient volume, and operations strategies as links to success or failure. While such studies are often insightful and worth considering, they won’t pass scientific muster. That’s because ACO success does not depend solely on an ACO’s organizational attributes. Success in Your ACO Business Is Driven by Vision and Execution Like every business trying to…
Read More
ACOsEpisodes of CareRiskSpecialty ServicesValue-Based Health Care
October 6, 2021

New ACO Playbook: Seven Keys to Expanding ACO Savings—and Market Share

At the beginning of this series, we laid out a basic tenet: As shared savings plan ACOs, you need to do as well or better at lowering costs than competing value-based payment models. Otherwise, your resources and support will dwindle in favor of more promising avenues to control Medicare spending, and competition will stifle your growth. We’ve examined the competition and what they offer physicians to succeed in Risk and to attract patients. The bar is high. Medicare Advantage Plans, equity-backed practices, and Management-model ACOs like Aledade have changed the playing field for physician participation and growth. ACOs Have Lost…
Read More
ACOsSpecialty ServicesValue-Based Health Care
August 25, 2021

New ACO Playbook: 3 Strategies to Tackle Hidden Costs of Specialty Care

Your ACO’s most significant costs may seem obvious. CMS and most ACOs have put an enormous emphasis on reducing utilization of hospital facilities and nursing home care to control costs. But your real key to cost reduction is knowing what drives avoidable admissions and stays in the first place. And with 50-60 percent of costs attributed to specialty physicians, that is where you need to start. Specialists are—and should be—involved in your most complex patients’ care. Those specialists will benefit from a collaborative involvement in cost data. And both your ACO and your patients will benefit from better and more…
Read More
ACOsConsumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareValue-Based Health Care
August 24, 2021

Cost Savings Aren’t the Only Objective for ACOs: Growth Matters, Too

Keeping within expenditure limits is a top priority for most ACOs for Medicare. That makes sense. Savings are the main distinguishing feature of an ACO arrangement, as opposed to straight Fee-for-Service reimbursement. ACOs that accept downside risk can’t afford to exceed the expenditure target. It’s in their best interest to create initiatives to cut costs and control expenses—especially for services outside the ACO, such as post-acute care. But a cost strategy only focused on trimming expenses will likely fail the ACO in the long run. Why? Medicare ACOs face an annually decreasing expenditure limit that mandates them to lower costs…
Read More
ACOsFuture of Health CareRiskValue-Based Health Care
August 19, 2021

New ACO Playbook: Three Ultimate ACO Strategies to Keep Physician Practices Onboard

ACOs have zealously protected their favored status under Medicare Value-Based payment models, ensuring enough time for organizations to feel comfortable with financial risk and make investments in infrastructure. But if your own ACO is losing physicians to new equity-financed networks or to hospitals consolidating practices, more time does not help you. Primary care physicians are being picked off by your competition, and their patients go with them. Private equity firms and venture capital-funded groups have gained significant ground in acquiring physician practices, with mergers and acquisitions hitting record highs in 2019 and 2020, and accelerating in 2021. Equity firms and…
Read More
ACOsConsumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareValue-Based Health Care
July 29, 2021

Five Important Health Care Trends that Consumers Should Track

In the world of health care, change is never-ending. Politics, government regulation, scientific advancement, technology, and the economics and financing of health care foster shifts to reshape how care is delivered and how much it costs. Many of these shifts are completely invisible to us as health care consumers. But they also drive what is happening to and around us, determining availability and affordability of physicians or other services. This came home to me last month when we had friends over for dinner, and the conversation turned to our work. I mentioned Accountable Care Organizations and got blank stares. The…
Read More
ACOsRiskValue-Based Health Care
July 14, 2021

New ACO Playbook: 3 Approaches to Scale Up Data Sufficiency for Value-Based Care

Like every health care organization, your struggles with data may appear never-ending. Like money, there never seems to be enough of it. In this article we’ll take the mystery out of how to realistically gauge your data needs, identify the links between what you want to accomplish as an ACO or medical group in value-based payment models and those data requirements, and help you target your data efforts. Data Needs Have Scaled Up with Value-Based Care When providers were focused on meeting patient volume targets, operations systems like billing and scheduling provided an adequate basis for tracking volume and revenues.…
Read More
ACOsEpisodes of CareValue-Based Health Care
June 17, 2021

New ACO Playbook: How ACOs Can Transform Clinical Care for Diabetes

An illuminating article about ACOs, featuring current and former MedPAC chairs’ perspectives, argues that savings have been constrained because too much is beyond ACOs’ purview to manage. Examples include both external restrictions (the exclusion of prescription drugs and provider fee payments from ACO control) and internal cultural or economic barriers (conflicts of interest that make it difficult to reduce hospitalization revenues). ACOs Are Caught Between Roles as Provider and Payer The current ACO model is, indeed, challenging. Blending both provider and payer functions is fraught with conflict. But the provider-directed model was supposed to function closer to the actual delivery…
Read More
ACOsAPM Performance PathwayMerit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)RiskValue-Based Health Care
May 24, 2021

New ACO Playbook: To Show Standout Performance, ACOs Must Rethink Quality

The health care media are full of articles asserting that ACOs have proven their mettle in delivering health care of highest quality. Citing ACO quality reporting results, CMS and advocates point to the majority of ACOs passing CMS quality standards, and that ACOs are improving their results on quality measures over time. The vast majority of ACOs meet quality measures, with 92 percent passing the qualification for shared savings in 2019. But is quality performance a distinguishing feature that ACOs can use competitively—and sustain the payment model’s long-term prospects? To earn permanency and competitive advantage, ACOs must show that the…
Read More
ACOsFuture of Health CareValue-Based Health Care
May 13, 2021

New ACO Playbook: Three Touchstones for ACO Viability

Some believe that an ACO’s leadership structure predicts its success. They point to differing savings results for physician-led versus hospital-led ACO shared savings models (MSSPs) to make their case. In particular, they make the argument that future Value-Based Care (VBC) policies should benefit the growth of successful physician-led ACOs, protecting them from policies that force them into Risk. There are significant flaws to tying ACO structure to the viability or value of the model, however, or in discrediting ACOs which don’t yet produce those savings but may have other important characteristics for the long term. In a more competitive health…
Read More