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Leavitt Partners And KLAS Research Release Comprehensive Report On Accountable Care Organizations

SALT LAKE CITY, Nov. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A comprehensive and cutting-edge report co-authored by Leavitt Partners and KLAS Research shares detailed information about the structure, maturity, partnerships, practice and payment arrangements of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) throughout the country. The report, which represents the culmination of months of survey research and analysis, is based on a largest-of-its-kind and growing database of more than 324 ACOs and in-depth interviews with 57 physician leaders and health executives. The research makes clear the inseparable relationship between risk, care coordination and health information technology (HIT), and reveals an expanding and diverse movement that will dramatically alter the future of American health care.

"Our findings affirm that the health care industry is moving rapidly and thoughtfully towards new payment models that empower providers to assume responsibility for outcomes as well as costs," said Andrew Croshaw, a partner and managing director at Leavitt Partners. "The ACO movement, while still in its infancy, is moving from a seldom observed abstract concept to a legitimate new model of care delivery and payment. This report uncovers the details behind the movement and sheds light on the challenges and solutions facing decision-makers as the movement grows."

Research for the report is based on Leavitt Partners' ACO database and interviews with C-suite executives, physicians and other senior executives. The 153-page document includes an executive overview of the research and briefs on topics like ACO partnerships, payment arrangements, payer mix, continuum of care, care coordination and a variety of HIT topics. The report also includes detailed research data in an easy-to-understand graphic format and a special questions commentary section that reveals how ACOs operate.

Among the multiple findings included in the report are these conclusions:

  • Unique arrangements –  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has served as a catalyst  for ACO growth, over half of the ACOs surveyed work outside of government in a melting pot of hospital systems, physician groups and commercial payers. With few exceptions, each ACO represents a unique combination of risk-bearing arrangements, care coordination, technology solutions and goals.
  • Physicians taking a lead –  The number of ACOs led by physician groups has increased dramatically. Physicians bring primary care and medical home experience, but face a challenge in building data platforms to manage populations.
  • Greater risk –  Almost one-third of the ACOs surveyed have capitation contracts for a portion of their population, which is the payment arrangement most often cited as the ultimate goal of the accountable care movement.
  • Hands-on care coordination –  Health information technology constitutes a major part of the care coordination equation, but most strategies are labor intensive. Care transition coordinators, care management coordinators, wellness programs, and health coaches were common elements of the ACOs surveyed.

The report authors identify three broad categories of ACOs. About 20 percent of ACOs surveyed are "toe dippers." These organizations are just getting started, cautious in their approach, and unsure of their long-term strategy. Another 65 percent of ACOs surveyed are "mainstream." These entities embrace accountable care publicly and energetically, and participate in well-known programs such as the Medicare Shared Savings and formal arrangements with commercial payers. The final 15 percent of ACOs surveyed are "forerunners" because they functioned as ACOs before the term was defined. These organizations are likely to be large integrated delivery systems and are experienced at operating fully capitated models like Medicare Advantage.

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