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More Than Half of Physicians Participate in ACOs, PCMHs, Survey Says

June 20, 2013
by Rajiv Leventhal
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According to the survey of physicians and healthcare professionals, more than half (53 percent) of respondents currently participate in an accountable care organization (ACO), patient-centered medical home (PCMH), or other risk-based or shared savings programs.

The survey, which was done by eClinicalWorks, a Westborough, Mass.-based  ambulatory healthcare IT solutions vendor, found that among those who don’t participate in one of the above-mentioned programs, approximately one-third (34 percent) anticipate their organization becoming part of an ACO, PCMH or shared-savings plan in the next three years.

According to the survey, the primary motivator for becoming an ACO or PCMH is to improve patient outcomes (66 percent). That consideration is seconded by two separate motivators: being able to better utilize resources across the health care system (41 percent) and maintaining market share (40 percent).

The points that showed the most consensuses among respondents involved the tools required to meet the goals and requirements of these care models. When asked what features or capabilities of healthcare information technology systems might be valued by an ACO or PCMH, nearly all organizations with or considering an ACO or PCMH believe that integration with the electronic health records (EHR) system is important (95 percent) to create quality outcomes for patients. Even more telling is the intensity of importance placed upon EHR. A majority consider this “very important” (82 percent). Additional features that are valued for creating quality outcomes include:

  • 93 percent rate physician alerts for high-risk patients within the EHR as important
  • 93 percent rate care-planning and coordination tools as important
  • 89 percent rate risk-assessment tools/predictive analytics as important
  • 86 percent rate patient engagement tools like online portals, smartphone applications, notifications to patients, and patient satisfaction surveys as important.       

Interestingly enough, in a survey last year by The Physicians Foundation, a Boston-based nonprofit organization that seeks to advance the work of practicing physicians and help facilitate the delivery of healthcare to patients, 62 percent of physicians said ACOs are either unlikely to increase healthcare quality and decrease costs, or that any quality/cost gains will not be worth the effort.

But a more recent study by global management consulting firm L.E.K. Consulting found that more than 80 percent of surveyed hospitals making future plans to join or already participating in an ACO.

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