Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about accountable care organizations.
What is an ACO?
An accountable care organization (ACO) is a group of doctors and other health care providers who voluntarily work together with Medicare to provide high-quality service and care at the right time in the right setting.
What led to the creation of ACOs?
As part of the health care legislation passed by Congress and signed into law in March 2010, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) was authorized to develop a Medicare Shared Savings Program by creating accountable care organizations. The intention of the legislation is to reduce costs and improve quality of care through cooperation and coordination among providers. Atlantic ACO realizes that the health care landscape is changing and wants to be on the forefront of change and an active participant in the process.
Why are hospitals and physicians forming ACOs?
With a focus on quality care for the Medicare Fee-for-Service patient, ACOs should be considered a patient-centered organization, where the patient and providers are true partners in care. ACOs coordinate care for their patients on an individual basis and reach across medical specialties and care settings. In addition, ACOs are held accountable by reporting performance on quality measures such as prevention, disease identification, ongoing intervention, patient satisfaction and total cost of care.
The Medicare fee schedule remains the same; however, shared savings will be distributed to the physicians by the ACO. By promoting more strategic integration and care coordination, the ACO model offers a potential win-win for providers, payors and patients alike, and will provide seamless, high-quality care for patients.
How do physicians benefit from participating in an ACO?
There are many benefits, since ACOs are designed to streamline patient care when they use multiple specialties. Key benefits include:
- Improved office workflow efficiencies and ease of access to key clinical information
- Ability to coordinate difficult cases that require multiple visits and involve multiple providers
- Improved communication with all members of the patient's care team
- Strength of Atlantic Health System supporting this ACO