There’s been quite a bit of focus on alternate health care delivery methods of late, with medical homes and Accountable Care Organizations prominently noted as ways care will be improved and costs reduced. One source indicates there are 270 ACOs currently operating with an estimated 20 million members.
While the early evidence is somewhat mixed, in general the news is positive; a Pennsylvania ACO raised quality, and decreased infections and readmission rates, leading to a year over year decrease in medical costs. Generally, ACOs involve facilities and providers agreeing to focus on specific quality measures and reward performance instead of paying on a fee for service basis. In PA:
Half of hospitals and physicians’ potential earnings are based on their performance improvement in hospital-acquired infections, patient experience, readmissions, surgical care, and treatment for heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia. The other half of the earnings are based on the providers’ ability to manage costs across inpatient care, outpatient care, ancillary care, home health services and prescription drugs.
There are problems inherent in the model; patient satisfaction is a tough metric to achieve when ER patients only want narcotics for their pain, while readmission rates are going to be higher when patients refuse to be responsible for post-discharge care. Our daughter works in an inner-city ER and this is all too common; patients KNOW these are key criteria and tell care givers they will downscore them if they don’t get their meds.
Nonetheless, it’s a far better financial model than fee for service as it doesn’t incent more care and higher intensity care.
Notably, it’s hard to find any evidence of ACOs in work comp. I’d be most grateful if readers could point me to any reports or information related to alternative delivery systems in WC; while there are some bundled payment models, and a couple episode-of-care pilots I’m aware of, there’s just not much going on as far as I can see.
Just leave a comment here – and thanks!