The success of any accountable care organization, according to David J. Shulkin, MD, president of Atlantic Accountable Care Organization and Morristown Medical Center, depends upon three factors: Clear goals and objectives to reduce unnecessary spending and improve quality; aligned financial and clinical incentives; and data to direct performance and share care coordination efforts.
AAC, established in 2010, has 50,000 Medicare beneficiaries, six hospitals, and 1,400 physicians, as well as home care and hospice services. "IT plays an important role in information sharing of clinical and financial data and in the coordination of care to avoid duplicative testing and improve care planning among our clinical teams," Shulkin said. He added that getting involved in an ACO is imperative because the current healthcare model is unsustainable and that things are moving rapidly toward a value based reimbursement system.
The Atlantic ACO began as part of the Medicare Shared Savings Program. It has plans to add several commercial ACO contracts. How does it eliminate waste? "Our ACO is led by physicians and we have teams of doctors and nurses now looking at practice patterns and engaged in the re-design of clinical care paths," said Shulkin.
The organization is now working toward three goals: identify and reduce duplicate testing, eliminate testing that is not supported by evidence-based guidelines, and coordinate care plans.