What are the characteristics of physician practices that intended to join Medicare accountable care organizations in 2012? In the October issue of The American Journal of Managed Care®, researchers probe 1398 practices to examine the different capabilities and experience levels needed to manage risk in these healthcare models.
Early ACO programs attracted practices that already had strong capabilities in health information technology (HIT), care management processes (CMP), and quality improvement (QI) methods; however, even those practices were not implementing all of the recommended actions available to them, according to lead author
“Those practices already doing well, or that at least believe that they have the QI, HIT, and CMP capabilities to do so, have the opportunity to get paid for continuing to do well,” the authors wrote. “Those practices that have fewer resources to invest in such capabilities are likely to fall further behind, potentially exacerbating possible disparities in patient care.”
The findings have implications for future physician practice selection into ACOs, the authors wrote, especially as ACOs across the country grapple with a planned change from CMS, which announced it will reduce the amount of time it allows an ACO to stay in a one-sided risk arrangement. The authors wrote that “catch-up” policies and practices may be needed, including technical assistance programs and, Shortell adds, “various partnerships with hospitals, insurers, and non-provider organizations that can help accelerate the rate of learning required for new entrants to succeed.”
Source: The American Journal of Managed Care