Jeb Dunkelberger Outlines the Launch of ACO Partner With BCBSAZ

Recently, McKesson Business Performance Services and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona partnered to form ACO Partner, a shared savings program focused on improving outcomes and costs.

Recently, McKesson Business Performance Services and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona partnered to form ACO Partner, a shared savings program focused on improving outcomes and costs. Jeb Dunkelberger, vice president of accountable care services at McKesson and clinical & commercial operations at ACO Partner, discussed the creation of ACO Partner and the challenges of setting up the program.

Transcript (slightly modified)

What is ACO Partner and what was the impetus behind starting it?

ACO Partner is an organization that was created to unify patients, providers and stakeholders. It was created to provide services at no cost to providers while also introducing value-based reimbursement mechanisms. We unify Blue Cross Blue Shield and their incredible brand and presence in Arizona as well as McKesson organization and our incredible brand and presence in Arizona. And we’re hoping to take this national.

I think we’ve had a lot of interest and outpouring of support from multiple payers-provider organizations throughout the country. These are clients of ours already that I’ve expressed more interest in talking about this and how to unify everybody together. I think if you take almost a Switzerland approach, where you are an organization that is not the payer, it’s not the provider, it’s not this contentious back and forth, and it’s an organization that just wants everyone to partner and can mediate and can bring people together. I think we’re going to see tremendous success.

As a national strategy, there is no question that it’s going to take off and I look forward to seeing where that goes.

What was the biggest challenge when creating ACO Partner?

So when it comes to challenges of creating this type of organization, I think that as we look across the country, there’s a lot of questions around the success of ACOs, of PCMHs [patient-centered medical homes], of CINs [clinically integrated networks], of different value-based organizations.

What we’ve done here with ACO Partner is we’ve created an organization that rectifies most of those issues. We’ve created a no cost service product platform that allows providers to come in and select what they need. We’ve created a value-based incentive so we’ve realigned the incentive. We’ve ensured that all of our quality benchmarks that we’re utilizing within this type of value-based reimbursement mechanism are aligned with patient satisfaction, quality of care and outcomes. So as you look at process and outcomes, we’ve made that a cornerstone of our measurement criteria.

When you start looking at the other challenges, I think the biggest thing is understanding what providers need. And most organizations, they think they know and so they build a strategy on it and they deliver and they don’t hit the mark. But if you take a little bit of time to understand the providers and the providers need and you can understand kind of, "here’s an a la carte services that we can bring to the table and we can support you or you can do it yourself." And you allow that autonomy to still exist, I think that is a supportive culture that allows us to grow and mold together.

And then of course, at the end of the day, it’s a partnership. That’s the biggest thing. Our care management team needs to be able to work with our physicians and their care management teams, from the MA, the nurses, the MPs, PAs, MDs, DOs—it doesn’t matter who you are, we’re all on one team to service the patient.