ACOs by the Numbers: 8 Recent Statistics and Findings

The following statistics or study findings about ACOs help paint a picture of the model today, in terms of prevalence but also in function.

Below, find the number of ACOs today, the most common contracts and what entity, physician groups or hospitals, are leading the model. Also, get the stats for some of the trends within the ACO model itself, such as surgeons getting placed on the backburner and the majority of beneficiaries leaving their ACOs for specialty care.

Below are summaries of the findings, which can be read in full through accompanied links.

1. The number of ACOs in the United States now exceeds 600. A May 2014 analysis from Salt Lake City-based Leavitt Partners identified 626 ACOs around the country.

2. The total number of ACO-covered lives is approximately 20.5 million, according to Leavitt Partners. Another way to measure the number of people impacted by ACOs is to count the number of patients that are served by providers participating in an ACO. Though the provider is not actually at risk for the majority of their patients, there is the possibility that all patients will benefit from the organization's participation in accountable care. Using this method, researchers at Oliver Wyman calculated that ACOs serve between 46 and 52 million patients.

3. Most ACOs are through federal healthcare programs: 329 of the 626 ACOs have government contracts, 210 have commercial contracts and 74 have both, according to the Leavitt Partners analysis. (The other 13 have not yet made specific announcement about their contracts or are still in the finalizing process.)
4. A little more than half (51 percent) of ACOs were physician-led last year, according to a recent study in Health Affairs. Thirty-three percent of the ACOs were jointly led by physicians and hospitals.

5. Medicare's early ACOs have put little emphasis on surgical care, even though it accounts for roughly half of hospital expenditures. Researchers examined how surgical care has been organized in the initial 59 Medicare ACOs and how surgeons are being engaged, if at all. When asked to indicate the priority that they were placing on various objectives during their ACO's first performance year, only 10 percent ranked the goal of reducing unnecessary surgery as a high or very high priority. On the other hand, 97 percent of respondents considered reducing avoidable hospital readmissions as a high or very high priority. 

6. The majority of beneficiaries assigned to an ACO left it for specialty care, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Care. Among ACO-assigned beneficiaries, 8.7 percent of office visits with primary care physicians were provided outside of the assigned ACO, and 66.7 percent of office visits with specialists were provided outside of the assigned ACO.

7. Most physician practices have not joined ACOs. Researchers surveyed 1,183 physician practices, finding 35 percent of the physician groups have already joined an ACO or plan to join one soon, and 60 percent did not join an ACO and have no plans of joining one.

8. Seventy-five percent of healthcare providers participate in at least one type of value-based payment model, according to a report from Availity, a revenue cycle management and business solutions provider. 

More Articles on ACOs:
Physicians See Promise in Patient Engagement, Study Finds
4 Principles For Maintaining a Successful ACO Model
7 Recently Announced ACOs


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