The 4 ACO aspects that boost population health

By Tom Sullivan
11:39 AM
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The very notion of accountable care organizations cuts both ways. Brimming with promise, ACOs also have some folks wondering whether the plan is achievable – and the recently proposed ACO regulations added a bit more tension into that discussion. But now an industry association has outlined some of the advantages.

When the 200-member-strong Care Continuum Alliance released a 60-page ACO toolkit on April 26, in fact, the industry association broke out “four core strengths of population health management,” and described them as “strategies and services aimed at promoting wellness and reducing chronic disease risk and severity.”

[Related Q&A: The good, bad, and otherwise of ACOs]

Cutting to the quick, then, here are those four strengths:

  1. Health risk assessments and predictive modeling can be used to focus the ACO on patients with the greatest needs, or at highest risk.
  2. Mobile, connected, empowered and flexible non-physician-based care can capitalize on clinical teaming and shared decision-making.
  3. Data "liquidity" and analytics can be harnessed to glean insights from health IT and better understand how to improve outcomes in an ACO population.
  4. Management expertise can ensure the intellectual and financial capital necessary to accept various levels of risk transfer.

Whether individually or taken together, those four practices “can help ACOs achieve quality and savings goals,” the Care Continuum Alliance said in a prepared statement.

The association claims its toolkit, “Achieving Accountable Care: Essential Population Health Management Tools for ACOs,” will help providers, physicians and hospitals hone service and expertise to “improve care quality, keep patients healthier and lower costs."

The group said that the toolkit is available as a free download on its Web site.