Accountable Care Organizations: roles and opportunities for hospitals.Hosp Pract (1995). 2011 Aug; 39(3):140-8.HP
Federal health reform has established Medicare Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) as a new program, and some states and private payers have been independently developing ACO pilot projects. The objective is to hold provider groups accountable for the quality and cost of care to a population. The financial models for providers generally build off of shared savings between the payers and providers or some type of global payment that includes the possibility of partial or full capitation. For ACOs to achieve the same outcomes with lower costs or, better yet, improved outcomes with the same or lower costs, the delivery system will need to become more oriented toward primary care and care coordination than is currently the case. Providers of clinical services, in order to be more effective, efficient, and coordinated, will need to be supported by a variety of shared services, such as off-hours care, easy access to specialties, and information exchanges. These services can be organized by an ACO as a medical neighborhood or community. Hospitals, because they have a management structure, history of developing programs and services, and accessibility 24/7/365, are logical leaders of this enhancement of health care delivery for populations and other providers.