Saying "we don't want to have organizations mess up the concept," the National Committee of Quality Assurance president last week announced that six physician-hospital networks are the first to receive accreditation that they qualify as true accountable care organizations.
"If we really want to maximize the chance of success of the ACO concept, we have to make sure everyone who is a player is capable of being one," said Margaret O'Kane. "We've lived through periods when we've had managed care backlash and so forth, and sometimes, it's because we had organizations that weren't doing the right thing."
The problem is that across the country, several hundred organizations now call themselves an ACO, but without some sort of vetted accreditation process, no one knows what that means, especially if an ACO is organized around private plan, non-Medicare patients.
"We're currently in a state where individual payers are setting their own standards and making their own arrangements, which makes life very complicated, and also creates a lot of waste," O'Kane said.