Patient Care

Accountable-Care Organizations on the Horizon for Hospitalists


Every HM group should look into transitioning from a fee-for-service model to an accountable-care organization (ACO), a leading hospitalist told conference attendees recently at the Third National Accountable Care Organization Congress.

"You need to be tackling it now, but that doesn't mean you need to be aggressively doing it now," Edward Murphy, MD, chairman of Sound Physicians, told eWire days before he spoke at the ACO Congress on Oct. 31 in Los Angeles. "By tackling it, you need to be doing a hard-nosed assessment of what's best for your group and your patients."

Question: Why is the ACO model so difficult in some instances?

Answer: The problem with the healthcare system today is we’ve spent 100 years building up a system that is designed around, and competent at, delivering services for fees. We're really not set up to manage care.

Q: What is the No. 1 thing you want hospitalists to know about ACOs today?

A: Figure out every single day how to improve the care of your patients at a lower cost. And then, how you can demonstrate it in a quantitative and clear way. ACO-style payments are really only a value proposition centered on providing superior outcomes for patients at higher satisfaction for lower cost. That’s a fundamental value that will always be noteworthy.

Q: Is a hospitalist's job to lead the charge toward ACOs, or support those who do?

A: That's the sort of thing that people on the ground don't have to be told. They just know. If I were the leader of a hospitalist group someplace and really thought the smart thing to do was to think about how to move to an accountable-care model … I would know from my discussions with my colleagues, my discussions with hospital executives where everybody was.

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