Seven states sign on to accountable care initiative

Physician groups in five states are poised to expand their participation in a Cigna-led accountable care program, with two additional states slated to newly join the collaborative, officials announced Thursday.

Groups in Nevada and Oregon are the latest members to sign on with the Cigna collaborative care program, with physician practices across Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Nevada, Oregon and Tennessee also pledging to the program. With the addition of these initiatives, the healthcare management company now includes 42 collaborative accountable care programs in 18 states and covers more than 390,000 customers. Cigna launched its first collaborative accountable care program in 2008.

These programs focus on expanding patient access to health care, improving care coordination, and achieving a triple aim of improved health outcomes, affordability and patient satisfaction. Collaborative accountable care is Cigna's approach to accomplishing the same population health goals as accountable care organizations (ACOs) with a strong focus on high-risk individuals.

[See also: Aurora Health, Aetna partner on ACO collaborative.]

In places where the initiative has been introduced, officials say collaborative accountable care is helping to improve the health of patients while holding the line on medical costs. The programs, officials add, are also helping to close gaps in care, such as missed health screenings or prescriptions refills, and they’re reducing unnecessary use of hospital emergency rooms, increasing the number preventive health visits and improving follow-up care for people transitioning from the hospital to home.

In 2011, for example, officials at Medical Clinic of North Texas witnessed the total medical cost trend improve by 4.4 percent while maintaining at four percent better than the North Texas market. During the same period, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems maintained quality at five percent better than its market. Additionally, in 2011, Holston Medical Group had an overall emergency room visit rate that was 12 percent lower than its Eastern Tennessee market, while avoidable emergency room visits for Cigna Medical Group were pegged at 24 percent below the Phoenix market.

The newest members of Cigna's network of collaborative accountable care initiatives are:

Arizona

Banner Health Network (effective Nov. 1), a nonprofit health system with operations throughout the West, including greater Phoenix.

California

Brown & Toland Physicians, an independent practice association based in San Francisco.

Colorado

The integrated Physician Network (iPN), a quality improvement collaborative that’s affiliated with Colorado’s largest not-for-profit health care system, Centura Health.

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