ACOs: More Players, Bigger Role

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Karen Utterback By Karen Utterback 
Former Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, McKesson (Retired)

ACOs Have More Players, Bigger RoleHow big a role will Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) play in the future of healthcare? A huge role, if recent numbers are an indication.

This fall, CMS reported that ACOs in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) improved on 30 of 33 quality measures. And last month, CMS announced that 89 new ACOs will join the program. That adds 23,000 providers and brings the group’s total to 405—covering more than 7.2 million beneficiaries.

When he made the announcement, Deputy Administrator Sean Cavanaugh said ACOs “drive progress in the way care is provided by improving the coordination and integration of healthcare and improving the health of patients, with a priority placed on prevention and wellness.”

Two other recent announcements also bode well for ACOs. In early December, CMS said it planned to give MSSP ACOs a three-year reprieve before they would receive penalties for failing to meet performance measures. In October, CMS said it would provide up to $114 million in upfront investments to 75 ACOs in an effort to better coordinate care in rural and underserved areas.

In the past, I’ve mentioned the value that home care brings to the care continuum; home care providers often identify issues and bring these concerns to providers’ attention before the situation escalates into an admission or readmission. Indeed, home care providers have unique insights into patient status, medication adherence and ability or willingness of patients to participate in their own care.

However, to effectively participate in ACOs, home health agencies must have a strong grasp not only on care coordination and evidence-based medicine, but also internal reporting on quality and cost metrics. Organizations with robust agency and clinical management software are in the best position to communicate to care partners about their role in caring for patients in today’s healthcare environment.

Do you know how to show the value of your home health agency when participating in ACOs? Learn more here.

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