Collaboration and culture change are prerequisites for an accountable care organization (ACO), according to Greg Mertz, senior project director with the Healthcare Strategy Group.
Forming an ACO is a multi-step process. One step is inventory and establishing your resources, people, data systems, leadership and clinical leadership. What do you have, and what do you have to get in order to meet the requirements that are going to be in the application process? The regulations indicate necessary elements --- the description of the quality assurance program, the data system and leadership, for instance.
Collaboration --- physicians working with physicians, primary care with specialists and physicians with hospitals --- is going to be hard because that is a cultural change. The practices in the CMS Physician Group Practice Demonstration have been around for decades and decades. The culture is established, and there is a history of physicians working together in patient management.
Simply creating an ACO is not going to get you to where you need to be. Whether you decide to put in an application or not, it is never too soon to get started in learning the collaborative model.
How much money is going to be required? When you look at your gap analysis and then start to look at what it’s going to cost to buy the systems to attract and retain the people, it may easily come up to $1 million to $1.5 million.