Physician Group ACOs Value Specialists, Nurse Practitioners

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
This post was written by Jessica Fornarotto

As the number of public and private accountable care organizations nears 500, participants are fine-tuning the ACO model. In the few years since the ACO model entered healthcare’s consciousness, administration has shifted from hospital-led to physician-only leadership to PHO-helmed ACOs. In its third annual industry survey on ACOs, conducted in 2013, the Healthcare Intelligence Network captured how 138 healthcare organizations are participating in ACOs.

Drilling down to the multi-specialty physician group perspective, this survey analyzed the number of existing ACOs for this sector, which providers participate in the ACO, and more.

With their built-in cadre of healthcare providers, multi-specialty physician groups (referred to here as physician groups), which comprised about a tenth of survey respondents, would seem ideally placed to transition to accountable care organizations. Percentage-wise, this sector has the highest rate of existing ACOs (57 percent participating in ACOs versus 34 percent of overall respondents) and twice the rate of participants in the CMS Pioneer ACO program (25 percent versus 13 percent).

In other deviations from the norm, twice the number of physician group-reported ACOs favor the hybrid FFS + care coordination + shared savings payment model (75 percent of physician-group ACOs versus 37 percent of overall respondents).

More than half of ACOs in this sector are administered by independent physician associations (IPAs), and most are smaller than the hospital-sized ACOs reported in the survey, with three-quarters reporting a physician staff of less than 100. These ACOs benefit from having specialists on board in greater numbers to help with care coordination of the chronically ill (100 percent include specialists, versus 71 percent overall).

They also unanimously include nurse practitioners (versus 90 percent of overall respondents) and with 50 percent including clinical psychologists in the ACO (versus 42 percent overall), are a little further along on the path of integrating behavioral health into the accountable care initiative.

Cognizant of the full care continuum, these IPA-led ACOs are almost twice as likely as overall respondents to include skilled nursing facilities (50 percent versus 29 percent overall) and hospice (75 percent versus 42 percent overall) in their ACOs.

Excerpted from: 2013 Healthcare Benchmarks: Accountable Care Organizations

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