The ACO and Employer Opportunities: White Paper
[This blog post introduces the third installment of HealthStream's new Accountable Care Organization (ACO)-focused white paper series. As the third of eight sponsored papers, it describes how ACOs may have a special role for companies and other organizations who provide healthcare coverage to employees.]
There’s a lot of discussion these days about Accountable Care Organizations (ACO), but employers still need help understanding what they are, how they work, and who is developing them. Today, more providers are engaging and communicating with employers directly as part of their business strategy.
Healthier Employees and Better Management of Chronic Conditions
As employer engagement efforts expand, and certain programs and services grow, the focus must remain not on conceptual thoughts for business as usual, but on the real, tangible benefits to employers such as healthier employees, better management of chronic conditions or high risk/cost patients, fewer lost days of work, risk assuming reimbursement, and lower healthcare costs. The ACO is the newest of these provider business strategies and is confirmed by the two surveys included in this white paper.
The Different Models of Employer-Directed ACOs
Just as there is not a single type of healthcare program, there is no one way to position an ACO in the market place. There are many forms of the model in use today, and it’s important to review your health plan needs and choose the method that works best for your company. Here are a few examples:
- Developed for Employer Participation: Some provider organizations have created ACOs for their own employees and dependents much in the same way that they’ve created health plans or medical homes.
- Direct Contracting for Total Healthcare Services: Some employers may have the opportunity to contract directly with a forming or developed ACO.
- Direct Contracting for Specific Healthcare Services: There may be an opportunity for the employer to contract with an ACO for specific healthcare services or programs.
This white paper discusses multiple ways that employers may want to think about engaging in ACOs for the benefit of employees and their organizations. Among the topics discussed are:
- Potential ACO models
- Potential Employer Risks
- ACO Surveys – Perceptions and Expectations of Employers, including:
- Survey highlights
- Questions asked and responses received
- What the Future holds for Employers and ACOs
Employers Could Benefit Tremendously from ACOs
ACOs have the potential to improve quality and reduce costs for the employee/dependent and employer alike by providing more patient-centered, coordinated, and integrated care. The PPACA only provides a broad outline of the ACO initiative. But with the appropriate vision, design, and strategic provider partnerships, employers could benefit tremendously from an accountable care delivery system.
Download the White Paper.