Study: ACO Efforts Lead to Cancer Care Savings

Efforts associated with accountable care organizations can decrease cancer care costs, according to research from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice.

Research found that 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, there was an improvement in mortality.

The cost reductions were associated with fewer inpatient admissions due to better care management, especially for duel-eligible patients.

The Physician Group Practice Demonstration did not result in fewer episodes of cancer-specific treatments, however. There was no change to deaths occurring in the hospital or reductions in hospice use, hospital discharges or ICU days, according to the research.

These findings are especially salient, as about 10 percent of total Medicare spend is on cancer care, and Medicare spend is nearly four times higher for beneficiaries with cancer than those without, according to the news release.

"ACOs have the potential to align incentives that could support a variety of value-based approaches to cancer care," Carrie Colla, the study's principal investigator, said in the release. "These approaches might include encouraging physicians to consider patient preferences and value when weighing treatments, implementing evidence-based treatments and discouraging overuse of imaging or expensive chemotherapy agents with suitable substitutes."

The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice research was published in the December edition of the journal Healthcare.

More Articles on Accountable Care Organizations:
One ACO's High-Tech Approach to Care Coordination
Granite Healthcare's ACO With Cigna Kept Quality High, Costs Low in First Year
25 ACOs to Know in the Midwest

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