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Accountable care organizations

Conceptually, accountable care organizations [ACO] coordinate and deliver efficient patient care across the continuum of different providers through accountable partnerships with physicians, hospitals, or other providers. With the recent passage of health reform, Medicare was authorized to contract with ACOs to determine if they are effective in improving care and containing costs. Two recent reports provide useful overviews.

The journal Health Affairs  and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have released a Health Policy Brief on Accountable Care Organizations. The briefing provides background and describes the basic features of ACOs. Early results of the ACO concept, challenges, and relevant provisions of the new health reform law are also covered.

Accountable Care Organizations: AHA Research Synthesis Report was published by the American Hospital Association in June. This report also describes the ACO concept, distinguishing it from HMOs and patient-centered medical homes. It discusses ACOs in the context of the new health reform law, looking at the potential impact,  core competencies required, key questions to consider,  and possible barriers. Several ACO pilot programs are identified.

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