Second Act for ACOs Focuses on Home Care and Telehealth

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Karen Utterback By Karen Utterback 
Former Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, McKesson (Retired)
Second Act for ACOs Focuses on Home Care and Telehealth

Recognizing the importance of sophisticated care coordination, post-discharge home services and access to telehealth programs, CMS’s Next Generation ACO Model includes additional coverage for all these areas.

The model was announced at the beginning of March, with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) saying it expects 15 to 20 accountable care organizations (ACOs) to form, including several Pioneer ACOs that migrate to the new program and some new groups. Organizations interested in applying in 2015 must submit a letter of intent by May 1 and an application by June 1. A second round of applications will be available in spring 2016.

“The model encourages greater coordination and closer care relationships between ACO providers and beneficiaries,” CMS said in a press release. “[It] also supports patient-centered care by providing the opportunity for beneficiaries to confirm a care relationship with ACO providers and to communicate directly with their providers about their care preferences.”

In a blog post, Dr. Patrick Conway, deputy administrator for Innovation and Quality for CMS, gave some further insight into the goals of the program, which involves ACOs taking on greater financial risk than those in current Medicare ACOs while potentially sharing a greater portion of savings.

“To support increased risk, ACOs will have a stable, predictable benchmark and flexible payment options that support ACO investments in care improvement infrastructure to provide high quality care to patients,” Conway writes. He adds that the ACO model “encourages greater coordination and closer care relationships between ACO providers/suppliers and beneficiaries by enhancing services that beneficiaries can receive from participating ACOs.”

Several groups praised the new ACO model , including the American Telemedicine Association and the Alliance for Connected Care. “This policy is a critical step forward in expanding the use of telehealth services in Medicare, which will allow for greater care coordination and improved quality of care,” Dr. Joe Peterson, president of Specialists on Call and chair of the Alliance for Connected Care, said in a statement.

The very nature of patient care – in the hospital, at home and everywhere in between – is changing at a rapid pace. Is your organization keeping up with these changes?

Want to learn more about financial and operational opportunities in the home care regulatory environment? Check out the McKesson Homecare Talk Resources Center.

 

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