2017 ACO Snapshot: As Adoption Swells, Social Determinants of Health High on Accountable Care Agenda

Thursday, June 29th, 2017
This post was written by Patricia Donovan

Nearly two-thirds of 2017 ACO Survey respondents attribute a reduction in hospital readmissions to accountable care activity.

Healthcare organizations may have been wary back in 2011, when the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) first introduced the accountable care organization (ACO) model. The HHS viewed the ACO framework as a tool to contain skyrocketing healthcare costs.

Fast-forward six years, and most resistance to ACOs appears to have dissipated. According to 2017 ACO metrics from the Healthcare Intelligence Network (HIN), ACO adoption more than doubled from 2013 to 2017, with the number of healthcare organizations participating in ACOs rising from 34 to 71 percent.

During that same period, the percentage of ACOs using shared savings models to reimburse its providers increased from 22 to 33 percent, HIN’s fourth comprehensive ACO snapshot found.

And in the spirit of delivering patient-centered, value-based care, ACOs have embraced a whole-person approach. In new ACO benchmarks identified this year, 37 percent of ACOs assess members for social determinants of health (SDOH). In support of that trend, the 2017 survey also found that one-third of responding ACOs include behavioral health providers.

Since that first accountable care foray by HHS, the number of ACO models has proliferated. The May 2017 HIN survey found that, of current ACO initiatives, the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) remains the front runner, with MSSP participation hovering near the same 66 percent level attained in HIN’s 2013 ACO snapshot.

Looking ahead to ACO models launching in 2018, 24 percent of respondents will embrace the Medicare ACO Track 1+ Model, a payment design that incorporates more limited downside risk.

This 2017 accountable care snapshot, which reflects feedback from 104 hospitals, health systems, payors, physician practices and others, also captured the following trends:

  • More than half—57 percent—participate in the Medicare Chronic Care Management program;
  • Cost and provider reimbursement are the top ACO challenges for 18 percent of 2017 respondents;
  • Clinical outcomes are the most telling measure of ACO success, say 83 percent of responding ACOs;
  • Twenty-nine percent of respondents not currently administering an ACO expect to launch an accountable care organization in the coming year;
  • 75 percent expect CMS to try and proactively assign Medicare beneficiaries to physician ACO panels to boost patient and provider participation.

Download HIN’s latest white paper, “Accountable Care Organizations in 2017: ACO Adoption Doubles in 4 Years As Shared Savings Gain Favor,” for a summary of May 2017 feedback from 104 hospitals and health systems, multi-specialty physician practices, health plans, and others on ACO activity.

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