What Results From the Physician Group Practice Demo Really Suggest About ACOs

A report published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that results of CMS' Physician Group Practice Demonstration may not have been as successful as presented.

The report, authored by Gail Wilensky, PhD, points out that only two of the 10 participants were able to exceed a 2 percent savings threshold in the first year of the five-year demonstration. Furthermore, only half managed to surpass the threshold after three years. These findings are important due to what they suggest about accountable care organizations' likelihood of success, according to the report.

The PGPs also suggested that some of the challenges were rooted in design issues, such as the way comparator groups were constructed or how patients were attributed to PGPs. Furthermore, most of the PGPs were in low-cost areas, which made it more challenging to find savings than it may be for ACOs in high-cost areas, according to the report.

In the report, however, Dr. Wilensky does applaud the PGPs' performance on quality metrics. By the fifth year, seven groups achieved benchmark-level performance on all 32 measures, and the remaining groups did so on at least 30 measures.

Related Articles on the Physician Group Practice Demonstration:

CMS: 7 Out of 10 Practices in PGP Demonstration Met Benchmarks, 4 Achieved Shared Savings
Picking Winners and Losers in ACOs: Lessons from the PGP Demonstration
ACOs May Create 3-Year Loss Before Savings Kick In

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