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Aetna, Memorial Hermann ACO: A Year in the Making

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media, February 13, 2013

Health insurer Aetna is leading in its development of accountable care partnerships. In the last month alone, its Accountable Care Solutions division has announced three such collaborations, and more are likely on the way.

Ralph Holmes, President of Aetna's operations in Texas, where two ACOs were announced in late January, one with Dallas-based Texas Health Resources and the other with Houston-based MHMD Memorial Herman Physician Network (MHMD), says its ACO partnership with MHMD took a year of planning.

"It took a while," says Holmes. "We think we've partnered with the right system because they're the largest system in town. But, I think because the size of the system, it actually made the agreement more complex in trying to bring all the pieces together. They have more at stake than a smaller player might."

MHMD is one of the largest independent physician networks in Texas with 3,900 clinically integrated, primary care and specialty physicians. Its clinically integrated physicians already collaborate with Memorial Hermann Health System's inpatient and outpatient sites to practice evidenced-based medicine, which Chris Lloyd, CEO of MHMD, says will help the ACO hit the ground running on April 1.

"I think there was increasing complexity on one hand," says Lloyd. "On the other hand, we weren't starting from the same point that a lot of organizations would be starting from. Evidenced-based medicine and protocol becomes the basis for how we start to move the underlying metrics and risk models."

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