7 Latest Findings About ACOs

Here are a few important study and survey findings about accountable care organizations from the past couple of months.

1. Although ACOs are widely dispersed, ACO penetration is not homogenous. The majority of states have an ACO penetration — or the percentage of lives covered by public and private ACOs — of between 1 percent and 10 percent, according to analysis from Leavitt Partners.

2. Of the nine states that have more than 10 percent of their covered lives in an ACO, Oregon comes out on top with 25 percent, according to the Leavitt Partners report. This is largely due to the state's coordinated care organizations, or CCOs, for its Medicaid program.

3. Twenty-one percent of hospitals and health systems that are not yet part of an ACO plan to create or join one by the end of this year, according to Premier's 2013 Fall Economic Outlook. However, another 23 percent of hospital and health systems do not plan to create or join an ACO in the foreseeable future.

4. Of the early Medicare accountable care organizations — those that joined the program before fall 2012 — just 46 percent involved a hospital, according to a Commonwealth Fund study. Of those ACOs involving hospitals, the typical participant was a large, nonprofit teaching hospital.

5. When the Commonwealth Fund study authors looked at data from ACOs that joined the Medicare Shared Savings Program before fall 2012, they found ACO patients had 5.8 percent lower total costs of care ($7,694) than patients not in an ACO ($8,164) at the baseline.

6. A study from the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy found variation in ACOs' readiness for medication management. For instance, 70 percent of ACOs identified high readiness to transmit prescriptions electronically, while only 9 percent of ACOs reported high readiness for notifying a physician when a prescription is filled.

7. Research from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice Research suggested ACOs face ample opportunity to reduce cancer care spending. The Physician Group Practice Demonstration, a precursor to Medicare ACOs that ran from 2005 to 2010 in 10 physician groups, reduced cancer care spending by $721 annually per patient, representing a 3.9 percent decrease overall. And the spending decrease had no adverse effect on patient survival — in fact, mortality rates improved.

More Articles on ACOs:

ACO Manifesto: 50 Things to Know About Accountable Care Organizations
3 Reasons ACO Growth Has Slowed
Don't Fall Back: 7 Lessons Learned From a Pioneer ACO

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