Cutting Costs, Improving Quality: Top 5 AJAC® Articles in 2016

This year, the most read articles from The American Journal of Accountable Care® explored how healthcare providers and payers have implemented innovative ideas to reduce spending while maintaining or increasing the quality of care.

The American Journal of Accountable Care® (AJAC®) publishes research and analysis that encourages the sharing of best practices to ensure the improvement of healthcare quality. This year, papers explored pathways toward success in accountable care organizations (ACOs), new interventions that reduced hospital readmissions or facilitated discharges, and much more.

These 5 articles exploring the meaning of quality and how to achieve it were the most read from AJAC® in 2016.

5. A Hospital Discharge Navigation Program: The Positive Impact of Facilitating the Discharge Navigation Process

A program that used navigators to help patients through a standardized discharge process resulted in those patients being discharged in less time and earlier in the day, according to researchers from Geisinger Medical Center. Their readmission rates were similar to those of patients without the discharge navigators.

4. Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Physician Quality Reporting System/Group Practice Reporting Option

Quality measures like the Physician Quality Reporting System and the Group Practice Reporting Option allow physician reimbursement to be tied to performance. Authors Amy Holm, MHA, and Hymin Zucker, MD, suggested 10 proactive ways practitioners can improve these metrics, which are essential for practices competing in the value-based healthcare landscape.

3. Health Plan—Provider Accountable Care Partnerships: How Have They Evolved?

A study combining qualitative interviews and surveys found that providers within private sector ACOs have demonstrated improvements in quality of care and a greater readiness to assume downside risk over time. However, further work must be done to include smaller practices in alternative payment and delivery models.

2. Cognitive Impairment and Reduced Early Readmissions in Congestive Heart Failure

In a study at Henry Ford Hospital, congestive heart failure patients who were identified as at risk for cognitive impairment and received a health psychology-based intervention while hospitalized had significantly lower readmission rates than their counterparts who received standard cardiology care only. The intervention included strategies to provide destigmatized education on cognitive impairment to patients and their families.

1. The Ingredients of Success in a Medicare Accountable Care Organization

The Hackensack Alliance ACO provides an excellent example of an organization that has cut costs while continuing to provide high quality care to the Medicare patients it serves. In this article, experts from within the ACO and outside of it identified the keys to this success, including the patient-centered medical home model and increased utilization of nurse care coordinators.