Moving Beyond the Buzzwords

August 14, 2014 in Medical Technology

Patient engagement. Population health management. Shared savings. Incentive alignment. Every tweet or article about accountable care is filled with buzzwords like these, but what do they really mean? How can they move patients, providers and payers toward more efficient, effective and sustainable care models?

Even though these buzzwords may sound like hype, the promise of accountable care organizations (ACOs) is very real. The key to building an ACO with long-term staying power is to approach it the right way. For lasting and meaningful transformation, providers must have three essential components in place:

  1. A tightly integrated physician base;
  2. A more effective, efficient approach to care; and

(3) An underlying economic model that promotes financial success.

While the prevailing wisdom suggests the most important factor for successful ACO development is driving new efficiencies, the reality is providers must do more to achieve financial sustainability. Capabilities such as network development and patient-facing technologies must be used along with efficiency-driving measures before everyone can fully reap the rewards of value-driven care.

Moving forward: From vision to action

While most organizations have a very clear vision for accountable care, it can be challenging to get every stakeholder to agree on next steps, such as determining how much to invest, how to create value and how to bring that value to fruition. That’s where the underlying economic model comes in. By enabling health systems to identify a range of possible paths to sustainability, these models can illuminate several key drivers for bringing an organization’s accountable care vision to life. The following are factors to consider in designing the economic model:

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