3 False ACO Readiness Assumptions

As the accountable care organization model grows in popularity, many assumptions about how to operate as a successful ACO have surfaced. However, according to a new paper from The Commonwealth Fund and the Premier healthcare alliance, three of the most widely accepted assumptions have not held true.

"There are many assumptions regarding the requirements of successful ACO implementation, but little data to support them," Susan DeVore, Premier president and CEO and one of the paper's authors, said in a statement. "What [the analysis] ultimately shows is there are different paths toward successful implementation of this model."

The study discovered three attributes, previously thought to be necessities to ACO success, which did not appear to differentiate successful and unsuccessful systems from one another.

Dominating market share. Organizations with a large portion of the market share are not necessarily poised to be successful as an ACO. In fact, in some cases studied by the report, systems with a smaller market share were able to move toward accountable care before the market-dominant systems.

Employing physicians. Many health systems have been snapping up physicians to be part of their ACOs. However, some of the highest-performing ACOs had the lowest proportion of employed physicians, according to the report.

Maintaining strong finances. One of the highest-performing organizations studied in the report had a relatively poor financial standing, showing that even organizations with less-than-stellar finances can prove successful in accountable care.

The study analyzed data from 59 health systems of varying sizes, geographic location and characteristics.

More Articles on Accountable Care Organizations:

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ACO Growth Patterns

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