25 to 31 Million Americans Receive Care Through ACOs

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

In just two years, the number of ACOs has swelled across the country, according to a new report from Oliver Wyman. A total of 25 to 31 million U.S. patients currently receive their care through ACOs, and an estimated 45 percent of the population live in regions served by at least one ACO. Researchers weren’t surprised by some of the ACO-intensive areas, namely urban areas like Los Angeles and Boston. But other ACO-rich areas were surprising, findings that support researchers’ claims that ACOs are poised to offer a competitive threat to traditional FFS medicine.

Increasing patient numbers, especially among the uninsured and Medicaid-eligible, has always been a problem for public hospitals, according to a study from the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC), and will continue to be a problem in light of ongoing health reform. How to continue to service low-income patients without sacrificing care quality? Expanding primary care access and attracting privately insured patients are two of six strategies public hospitals are taking; other strategies are detailed in this issue.

Rising healthcare costs could be contained by an estimated $200 to $600 billion in savings over the next 10 years if care provider payments are reformed, according to a report from UnitedHealth Group’s Center for Health Reform & Modernization. Around half of these savings might apply to Medicare and Medicaid, but even under optimistic assumptions about net savings and speed of adoption, health spending would continue to grow faster than incomes. Researchers maintain that payment reform is not the only answer, and needs to be pursued with other alternatives.

One potential solution for the sadly soaring numbers of cancer patients: oncology-specific EMRs that chart evidence-based treatment plans, according to a clinicians at The Mount Sinai Hospital. These EMRs enable drugs to be prescribed and health records to be exchanged electronically. Quality-related clinical data can also be captured for analysis. A panel convened specifically to study the EMRs’ effectiveness found that nearly 80 percent of people using them felt they increased their day-to-day efficiency and improved the quality of patient care.

And lastly, one aspect of healthcare that needs to be increased: the use of health coaching as a critical tool in population health management. Studies are showing that health coaches help to boost self-management of disease and reduce risk and associated cost across the health continuum. What do you think? Take HIN’s fourth annual Health Coaching survey; results will demonstrate how healthcare organizations use health coaching as well as the financial and clinical outcomes that result. Complete the survey by December 21, 2012 and receive a free executive summary of the compiled results. Your responses will be kept strictly confidential.

Read all of these stories in their entirety in this week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update.

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