More than 150 health-care leaders from throughout the country are in Northeast Ohio this week to learn about a trend that’s considered the future for the industry.
University Hospitals and Summa Health System are co-hosting an accountable care organization summit in Cleveland with Premier. The provider-owned alliance provides hospitals and outpatient facilities group purchasing, comparative data, technology and other consulting services to help them improve quality and reduce costs.
UH and Summa were among the first hospitals across the country to begin working with Premier several years ago on a pilot project to develop accountable care organizations (ACOs).
Accountable care organizations are part of an industry trend that brings together doctors, hospitals and other providers to coordinate care for a population of patients. They then share any savings achieved.
Health-care leaders from 40 hospitals systems in 30 states are in Cleveland through Thursday to learn from UH, Summa and other national experts about how to launch and expand ACOs in their markets.
“So many organizations now realize the future of health care has got to move in this direction,” said Joe Damore, vice president of integration and health-care delivery for Premier.
Unlike previous efforts by managed care to cut costs, the ACO model calls for better coordination of services, not just reduced services, said Dr. Evan Benjamin, senior vice president for health-care quality at Baystate Health in Massachusetts.
“It really is a very different approach,” he said.
The overall goal of ACOs is to achieve the “triple aim” of delivering higher quality care and better patient satisfaction at a lower cost, said Mark Terpylak, president of the NewHealth Collaborative. The ACO was formed by Summa and about 400 Akron-area doctors to coordinate care.
The NewHealth Collaborative coordinates care for more than 40,000 patients by using nurse case managers to work with patients and electronic systems to share records among different providers, Terpylak said. An after-hours call center allows patients of participating doctors to talk with a nurse who has access to their records.
University Hospital is using similar strategies, as well as programs to encourage weight loss and to help people with diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and other chronic illnesses achieve the best possible health, said Dr. Eric Bieber, president of the health system’s accountable care organization.
About 130,000 patients of participating doctors throughout Northeast Ohio are included in the ACO. Those patients are getting better communication with their primary-care office and improved coordination for all their medical care, Bieber said.
“We’re creating the safety net for them,” he said. “We’re helping to connect the dots.”
Accountable care organizations are investing money for systems and staff to coordinate care, Terpylak said. The next step is to negotiate contracts that reward quality and give doctors and hospitals a share of the savings they achieve by better coordinating care for patients.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org.