Across the country, accountable care organizations (ACOs) are being hailed as a solution to the most daunting challenges of healthcare reform: slowing the unsustainable growth in overall costs while improving quality of care. In an ACO, providers form a partnership that is accountable for the quality and cost of care delivered to a defined population of patients. By joining forces to deliver more efficient, coordinated care across the care continuum, a number of pilot programs have shown that ACOs can reduce Medicare spending, decrease total hospital patient days and hospital readmissions, and improve quality.
Over the next 12-24 months, providers that embrace the ACO model will focus on building leverage and scale in their local markets. Acquisitions and consolidations will be prevalent as providers move to expand their clinical share, increase their leverage and improve their financial positions. Now is the time to determine where your organization will fit in this changing landscape. Waiting too long or doing nothing may leave you on the outside looking in, with limited choices.