Stickiness: Why it's a Must-Have for Any ACO

When it comes to accountable care organizations, hospitals and health systems face a lengthy checklist for infrastructure requirements. Certain items, such as licenses and electronic medical records, are concrete and quantifiable, while others are more difficult to measure. Stickiness, or patient loyalty, falls into the latter.

In its new ACO report, PricewaterhouseCoopers defines stickiness as one of four key decisions any organization contemplating ACO status must make. When beneficiaries are in an open model, they can seek services anywhere. Thus, the hospital and/or health system must analyze and determine how loyal the patient population is to its physicians and providers, since the ACO will be responsible for the cost and quality of the services provided to them.

A survey from PwC's Health Research Institute found only 50 percent of consumers said they would always stay with a hospital or physician group responsible for their care instead of going out of network. Thirty-four percent of consumers were more ambivalent, saying they neither disagreed nor agreed that they would always stay with providers responsible for their care, while approximately 17 percent disagreed.

An even more basic problem is that few consumers understand what an ACO is, according to PwC research. Thus, they may not understand how receiving care either in-network versus out-of-network can impact providers in the ACO. When asked what "ACO" stood for, only 28 percent of consumers responded correctly. Nearly 40 percent believed the acronym stood for "Association of Care Organizations." Another 7 percent thought it stood for "Agency of Childhood Obesity."

Medicare ACOs receive quarterly population reports from CMS, but the PwC report says providers need to take additional steps to track their assigned beneficiaries' satisfaction of care on an ongoing basis.

More Articles on Hospitals and ACOs:

6 NCQA-Accredited ACOs
ACO Readiness: 6 Chief Determinants
18 Recently Announced ACOs

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