MAY 8, 2012

Welcome to the Accountable Care Update eNewsletter
This issue is sponsored by ACO Summit

Analysis: ACOs Could Have the Medicare Muscle to Transform Health System
Michael L. Millenson, author of Demanding Medical Excellence: Doctors and Accountability in the Information Age, provides an informative and compelling case for the importance of the concepts at the center of the accountable care movement and the ACO. The mechanisms to power the incentives that can replace fee-for-service are quickly evolving and need to be encouraged to continue. (Kaiser Health News, May 2, 2012).

The Michigan Pioneer ACO in Affiliation with the Detroit Medical Center Introduces Personalized Care at Home
The Michigan Pioneer ACO and Detroit Medical Center are implementing Personalized Care at Home, an innovative method for enhancing the care of chronically ill patients between physician visits. Personalized Care at Home provides an increased level of care to the chronic patient including education, other information and support which improves the quality of life quality for these patients and reduces the frequency of hospitalizations and ER visits. (MarketWatch, April 30, 2012)

Wellmark, Iowa Health form Accountable Care Organization
Iowa's largest payer and the State's largest health system are forming an accountable care organization. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Iowa Health System have announced the first of several planned ACOs in Iowa. Similar announcements are expected from Wellmark with Mercy Des Moines, University of Iowa Hospitals and Mercy-Cedar Rapids. (Des Moines Register, April 26, 2012)

Physicians, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York and Kaleida Health Announce Historic Strategic Partnership
Kaleida Health, BlueCross Blue Shield of Western New York, and an emerging network of Western New York physicians have committed, in the form of a memorandum of understanding, to the formation of a new, physician-led healthcare organization. The first such venture in the region will bring together physicians, hospitals and a health plan. (Kaleida Health News, April 18, 2012)

Implications for ACOs of Variations in Spending Growth
Researchers from the Harvard Medical School's Department of Health Policy assess the implications of regional variations in spending growth on ACOs participating in Medicare's Shared Savings Program. Because CMS will use national growth factors to set targets, hospital-referral regions experiencing significantly different growth rates either during the base period or the performance period may find their targets set are inappropriate and that, for example, hospitals may gain or lose financially without altering care patterns. (The New England Journal of Medicine, April 25, 2012)

Embracing Accountable Care: 5 Tips From Tucson Medical Center CEO Judy Rich
Judy Rich, CEO of Tucson Medical Center, the hospital partner in Arizona Connected Care, one of the recently announced participants in the Medicare Shared Savings Program, shares five of her most important points for leaders to consider who either have or are considering the formation of an ACO. (Becker's Hospital Review, May 4, 2012)

Survey: Docs Not Impressed with ACOs
WebMD's Medscape survey of 24,000 physicians found widespread cynicism regarding ACOs and health reform in general. Over half of the physicians expect ACOs to decrease their income. Perhaps not surprisingly, only 3% of the responders are ACO participants. (Health Data Management, April 30, 2012)

ACOs and Patient Safety: Dos and Don'ts
This brief podcast from H&HN Daily raises patient safety concerns that Becky Miller, Executive Director of the Missouri Center for Patient Safety, believes ACOs must consider. Among her recommendations is to carefully mitigating concerns over confidentiality arising from collaboration in addressing the conflicts that arise from such issues as isolating the cause of a pressure ulcer during the transfer of a patient between facilities. (HHN, May 2, 2012)

The ACO Wake-Up Call
This article appeared in April's Trustee magazine. Written by a hospital board member and a professor in business and health administration at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL, it provides a helpful outline for board's to review as they consider the question of forming an accountable care organization. (Trustee, April 2012)

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Transforming Medicare with Accountable Care

Kathleen Sebelius, MPA
Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services