New Florida ACO in town

Blue Cross Blue Shield teams up with NCH Healthcare System

In what's been billed as one of the first commercial accountable care programs in Florida, the Naples, Fla.-based NCH Healthcare System will team up with the state's Blue Cross and Blue Shield Company to participate in the Florida Blue Accountable Care Program.

The 715-bed NCH system includes the NCH Downtown Naples Hospital and the NCH North Naples Hospital, in addition to 64 physicians and 25 nurse practitioners and physician assistants employed by NCH.

The overall goals of this accountable care arrangement, officials say, are to improve individual patient care, improve overall health and decrease medical costs by utilizing a value-based payment model.

[See also: Health plans embracing ACOs, boosting IT, study shows.]

The arrangement is designed to benefit the some 4 million patient members of Florida Blue, the state's Jacksonville-based Blue Cross Blue Shield company. During the first year of the program, only Florida Blue members participating in fully insured commercial products will be included in the program. In future years, the program will be expanded to other Florida Blue members.

"We are truly excited to embark on this innovative accountable care structure and performance based arrangement with NCH Healthcare System," said Jonathan Gavras, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Florida Blue. "Both organizations realize the importance of moving away from the fee-for-service model to one that focuses on quality outcomes and cost containment."

[See also: Seven states sign on to accountable care initiative.]

"The NCH-Florida Blue partnership is an exciting first step to becoming an accountable care program – which promotes quality, care coordination, and total care management," said NCH President and CEO, Allen Weiss, MD. "Our overall goal is to improve individual care management and decrease costs while improving quality. Our patients, families, and community will all benefit by using evidence-based medicine while avoiding unnecessary emergency room visits, hospital admissions, tests, and procedures."