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Accountable care may bring revolutionary change

Jun 20 2014

Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released an analysis of 114 newly formed Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). Nearly half were able to cut costs for Medicare patients. Almost a third saved enough to qualify for incentive bonuses based on their success in providing more effective and efficient care.

These results are promising, but CMS acknowledges that the true impact of ACOs needs to be measured over several years.  And, as the Wall Street Journal reported, these 114 ACOs faced significant challenges including technology investment and electronic health record sharing.

Even so, a recent report posted on The Motley Fool suggests ACOs are where the real revolution in healthcare is happening. Financial writer Dan Carroll notes that “the future’s still under construction in the brave new world” of the Affordable Care Act.  “Obamacare’s arrival has sent tidal waves of change cascading across the health care sector. From millions of new insurance subscribers to fresh regulations and new taxes, insurance companies, health management firms, and investors all have been affected in a big way by the Affordable Care Act’s grand ambitions,” he writes.

“Yet Obamacare’s biggest public brand, its new state- and federally run insurance exchanges, aren’t even the changes that could bring the biggest benefit to America’s bloated health care spending. Enter Accountable Care Organizations: These new initiatives may be flying under the radar, but ACOs have the potential to create huge benefits for the U.S. economy – as well as for savvy companies and smart investors.”

For Aetna’s perspective, Charles Kennedy, M.D., CEO, Accountable Care Solutions from Aetna,  offers his point of view in a feature called, “Building a Better ACO,” on The Health Section.