An Inside Look at the Florida Association of ACOs

Earlier this month, 12 Florida-based accountable care organizations came together to form the Florida Association of ACOs under the guidance of Nicole Bradberry, the CEO of the new association and president and COO of Orange Health Solutions, which manages two ACOs in Florida. FLAACOs is the country's first state-specific association of ACOs.

Here, Ms. Bradberry shares where the idea for FLAACOs originated and how the organization can help ACOs across Florida and the rest of the nation.

Origin and growth

The formation of FLAACOs came about rather quickly, after Ms. Bradberry attended a conference held by the National Association of ACOs in Baltimore in March. "I…met leaders from other ACOs in Florida," she says. Through conversations with those leaders, Ms. Bradberry realized there was a general lack of communication happening between the state's ACOs. "There was so much need here to share information and trade best practices," she says.

Less than a month after NAACOs' national conference, Florida's organization is up and running with 12 members. At least one leader from each member organization is on FLAACOs' board, and the organization is already looking to grow — one board member is in charge of member enrollment, and FLAACOs has already been "approached many times" by ACOs that want to join the association, according to Ms. Bradberry. "That tells you how much need there is [for this] in the wild-wild-West marketplace of ACOs," she says. "Anywhere there is help; [ACOs] are gravitating towards it."

Additionally, vendors from across the country have already contacted FLAACOs to be a part of the organization. "Everyone in healthcare is trying to be affiliated with ACOs," Ms. Bradberry says, "but we're not going to let everyone who wants to pitch to us join." The association will vet the vendors, and the board will vote on all potential vendor partnerships.

Making the model work

Even though FLAACOs is still in its infancy, it has the potential to influence the future of healthcare. The accountable care model has been touted by many to be the fix the national healthcare industry needs, with its triple aim of improving healthcare quality and patient outcomes while lowering costs. However, Ms. Bradberry says the competition that has emerged among ACOs in nearby markets could hurt the model's future. "If ACOs are successful, this is the model of the future," she says. "If it's unsuccessful, [the model] won't matter. At the end of the day, we can all thrive and make this model successful."

As an organization, FLAACOs can reduce ACO-on-ACO competition through information sharing and spreading of best practices, but the statewide association's goals go beyond conversations and sharing. "[The association] can grow to offer services and capabilities some ACOs couldn't build on their own," says Ms. Bradberry. "Ultimately, we can have it be a contracting powerhouse."

What started as a 12-member organization has the foundation to grow into a powerful resource for Florida's ACOs that can reduce competition and influence the future success of accountable care in Florida and nationwide.

More Articles on ACOs:

Advocate's ACO Profiled in NYT for Keeping Patients Out of the Hospital
5 Questions to Ask Before Forming an ACO
Methodist Health System's Approach to PCMHs and ACOs: Q&A With Dr. Melissa Gerdes

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