More Than Half of Physician Groups Resist ACOs

Published Online: March 18, 2014
Katie Sullivan, MA
Currently, more than 600 accountable care organizations (ACOs) have been established throughout the United States. These healthcare models promise to incentivize value-based care by awarding or penalizing hospitals and physicians based on their ability to meet cost and quality benchmarks. A rise in health information technology (HIT) and a focus on population health management has made ACOs the ideal model for improving the quality of patient care and outcomes.

Still, a recent study finds that more than half of physician groups remain hesitant to join an ACO. It seems that many of these groups cannot effectively support the financial risk of accountable care due to their lack of sufficient resources. This includes HIT tools, like electronic health records (EHRs), and a support staff, such as care coordinators. Study authors, including Stephen Shortell, a University of California, Berkeley professor of health policy and management, said that if early ACO adopters demonstrate success, it could help encourage other groups to invest in the resources necessary to embrace the healthcare model.

“Early formative evaluations of pilot sites highlight the challenges of building capabilities in EHR functionality, predictive analytics, data-collection reporting and analysis, care management, physician and patient engagement, and the key roles played by culture and leadership,” the authors said.

The authors say that in addition to the uncertainty about the financial investments required for accountable care, many of these institutions also worry how it may affect their practices and hospital admissions.

Robert Cirincione, MD, chief medical officer, TriState Health Partners (THP), suggests that physicians need to understand the opportunities that exist with accountable care. He says his organization successfully transitioned to an ACO by creating a physician culture of accountability, and by encouraging collaboration and data sharing.

“There was very little ‘sell’ that had to be done. We went to our physicians who were already part of THP and presented them with the various contracts,” Dr Cirincione said. “From the physician’s standpoint, it is: what does it cost to join (nothing); what is the downside risk (none); what do you want me to do (practice more efficient and patient-based medical care and achieve increased outcomes)?”

Around the Web

About 60% of Physician Practices Avoiding ACOs, Study Finds [Modern Healthcare]

What Decides the Success of ACO, Population Health Models? [EHR Intelligence]