3 ACO lessons from integrated systems


Integrated healthcare systems, with associated providers and health plans, have a leg up on implementing accountable care organizations to improve care and lower costs. Leaders from two Washington-based integrated systems shared some best practices and lessons learned for ACO success during a panel discussion Thursday at the AHIP Institute in Seattle.

They highlighted several key elements of ACO arrangements, including:

1. Aligned incentives

All of the panelists emphasized the fundamental need to align incentives. By doing so, payers and providers can make investments that avoid the cost of poor quality, said Matt Handley, M.D., medical director at Group Health Cooperative in Seattle.

But efforts must go beyond aligned incentives. Healthcare organizations must work to manage the ACO arrangements with new models of care and non-fee-for-service activities. "You can't do either/or," said Joseph M. Gifford, M.D., CEO of the Accountable Care Organization of Washington at Providence Health & Services.

That's why an ACO arrangement should build care delivery systems that coordinate care across the continuum and leverage and work with patients from both the health plan side and provider side. Within the ACO model, payers and providers can directly interact with the customer, directly face the market, and as a result, innovate approaches to care.