Data is key to making ACOs work. Armed with information, patients can alert doctors to potential problems early and prevent complications.
For Hill, who was diagnosed with heart failure more than seven years ago, the morning weigh-in has become as routine as putting on his shoes. Like countless other patients nationwide, he's becoming more involved in his healthcare.
That's a major goal of the federal health care overhaul. Essentia Health has been taking care of patients like Hill with telehealth tools like the special scale since 1998. And now it is an Accountable Care Organization, or ACO. That means it takes responsibility for the health of a population of Medicare beneficiaries and can share any savings created by keeping people like Hill out of the hospital.