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National ACO Survey Finds Physicians Playing Key Leadership & Ownership Roles

Physician involvement in accountable care organizations is critical. In an effort to learn more about the roles physicians have in ACOs, researchers conducted a survey of both public and private ACOs.  They found that just over half – 51% – of ACOs were physician-led, while another 33% were jointly-led by physicians and hospitals. Physicians comprised the majority of the governing boards in 78% of the ACOs, and 40% of ACOs were physician-owned.

The survey results also show how physician-led ACOs differ from other ACOs. The potential strengths and challenges for ACOs led by physicians are discussed, even though it’s not yet known which ACO charactertistics will prove most successful for ensuring quality care and controlling costs.

In a separate study from the Leavitt Partners Center for Accountable Care Intelligence, researchers examined the evidence to date in cost savings and quality improvement for each of 4 types of ACOs – Medicare Pioneer, Medicare Shared Savings Program, Medicaid, and commercial ACOs. Early results are promising.

The Leavitt Partners team indicates it has identified over 620 ACOs to date.


Colla CH, Lewis VA, Shortell SM, Fisher ES. First national survey of ACOs finds that physicians are playing strong leadership and ownership roles. Health Affairs, 33(6):964-971, June 2014. http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/33/6/964.abstract

Petersen M, Muhlestein D. ACO results: what we know so far. Health Affairs Blog, May 30, 2014. http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2014/05/30/aco-results-what-we-know-so-far/

Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

One Response

  1. The idea is that ACOs can achieve both cost and quality improvements if implemented correctly because the coordinated and collaborative nature of the delivery system itself is paid for and rewarded for its outcomes, not for its volume of services. Let’s all hope that ACO will truly give better control over patients’ health care, and their doctors will be able to provide better care.

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