Editor's note: This story was originally published 2/14/2011
The term accountable care organization sounds like an iteration of trends that healthcare has trod before: integration, capitation, and consolidation, to name just a few of the associated buzzwords.
To understand the transformative potential of what ACOs could be requires you to poke at the definition of accountable. Edward Murphy, MD, president and CEO of Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, VA, says understanding the definition helps to build the plans necessary for creating accountable care structures.
“You have to ask two questions: Accountable to whom, and accountable for what?” Murphy says. The answer to the “whom” question is that “we are accountable to our patients and our community, and our community from the perspective that they pay for our services,” Murphy says. The answer to the “what” side of the equation is “we are accountable for outcomes. We are accountable for service. But we are also accountable for cost, and very specifically making them lower.”
Leaders from Carilion, Louisville-KY-based Norton Healthcare and New Jersey-based AtlantiCare gathered at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute for a HealthLeaders Media Rounds leadership seminar about the promise of ACOs and the challenges in creating them. Both Carilion and Norton are participants in the Brookings-Dartmouth ACO pilot project and AtlantiCare is creating its own ACO capability along with participation in an ACO collaborative with Premier, Inc., members.