Accountable Care Organizations

A group of doctors, hospitals and other health care providers collectively responsible for, and accountable for, quality and total per capita costs across the continuum of care for a patient population.  

Problem Solving Therapy For Home-Hospice Caregivers: A Pilot Study

Zvi D. Gellis, PhD
Aug. 30, 2020

Christin Gregory and Zvi Gellis

Abstract [from journal]

This pilot study examined the effects of Brief Problem-Solving Therapy on caregiver quality of life, depression, and problem-solving in family caregivers of hospice patients. Thirty-seven family caregivers to home-based hospice patients (mean age 62.8 [SD = 12.32]) were randomized to the study group (PST-Hospice), for a 45 minute per week/5 week intervention or comparison group of usual care plus caregiver education (UC + CE). The severity of depressive symptoms, caregiver quality of life and problem-solving functioning were assessed


Physician Groups in ACOs Don’t Avoid Vulnerable Patients

May. 21, 2020

Accountable care organizations (ACOs) are the largest experiment in payment reforms, but the incentive structure may lead participating physician groups to select fewer vulnerable patients. In a new study in JAMA Network Open, my colleagues and I tested whether physician groups changed their proportions of black patients and patients with low socioeconomic status after joining the Medicare ACO, and found that – in general – they did not.

Surgical Care in Accountable Care Organizations

May. 12, 2020

Accountable care organizations (ACOs) figure prominently in Medicare’s shift “from volume to value.” Providers in ACOs assume financial accountability for overall quality and costs for a defined patient population, and they earn shared savings for containing spending below a defined benchmark. To date, most ACOs have focused on primary care, outpatient services, and care management for patients with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart failure.

Proportion of Racial Minority Patients and Patients With Low Socioeconomic Status Cared for by Physician Groups After Joining Accountable Care Organizations

May. 1, 2020

Jessica T. Lee, Daniel Polsky, Robert Fitzsimmons, Rachel M. Werner

Abstract [from journal]

Importance: The incentive structure of accountable care organizations (ACOs) may lead to participating physician groups selecting fewer vulnerable patients.

Objective: To test for changes in the percentage of racial minority patients and patients with low socioeconomic status cared for by physician groups after joining the ACO.

Design, Setting, and Participants: This retrospective cohort consisted of a 15% random sample of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries attributed to physician


Health Care Cost Drivers and Options for Control

Issue Brief
Apr. 28, 2020

The growth of health care costs remains a serious concern in the United States. Slowing this growth involves understanding what drives health care costs and how to target those drivers effectively. In this brief, we review the relative importance of different health care cost drivers, including insurance benefits design, price inflation, provider incentives, technological growth, and inefficient system performance. We analyze the impact of these factors on the growth of health care spending in the last decade, which has been concentrated in hospitals and felt most acutely in the private market.

Physician Consolidation and the Spread of Accountable Care Organizations

Research Brief
Nov. 4, 2019

Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are groups of physicians and hospitals that jointly contract to care for a patient population. ACO contracts incentivize coordination of care across providers. This can lead to greater consolidation of physician practices, which can in turn generate higher costs and lower quality. Given this, the study asks, as ACOs enter health care markets, do physician practices grow larger?

Association of Bundled Payments for Joint Replacement Surgery and Patient Outcomes With Simultaneous Hospital Participation in Accountable Care Organizations

Amole Navathe19-head
Oct. 9, 2019

Joshua M. Liao, Ezekiel J. Emanuel, Atheendar S. Venkataramani, Qian Huang, Claire T. Dinh, Eric Z. Shan, Erkuan Wang, Jingsan Zhu, Deborah S. Cousins, Amol S. Navathe

Abstract [from journal]

Importance:  An increasing number of hospitals have participated in Medicare’s bundled payment and accountable care organization (ACO) programs. Although participation in bundled payments has been associated with savings for lower-extremity joint replacement (LEJR) surgery, simultaneous participation in ACOs may be associated with different outcomes given the prevalence of LEJR among patients receiving care at ACO participant organizations and potential overlap in care redesign strategies adopted under the 2 payment models.


The Tension Between Care Coordination and Conflicts of Interest

Feb. 6, 2019

Should providers participating in accountable care organizations (ACOs) be exempt from existing regulations that prevent financial conflicts of interest in physician referrals? On the one hand, these regulations, collectively known as the Stark Law, can impede efforts to coordinate care across providers and facilities. On the other hand, ACOs and other alternative payment and delivery models do not necessarily obviate the need for regulations that prohibit physician kickbacks or self-referrals.