Kicking Off the 2015 ACO’s

We’ve enjoyed a strong start launching Rural ACO steering committees last week. The member driven committees bring physicians, hospital administrators, community care coordinators as well as senior leadership from clinics, marketing, compliance, case management and emergency departments together to implement the programs that will drive improved patient care and lower costs.

In our daylong launch gatherings, it was interesting to hear comments from the gathered professionals. There was a genuine excitement. I overheard several conversations about “doing the right thing”, “getting the resources needed to improve patient care”, “coordinating with community resources”, “not letting patients slip through the cracks.” In one conversation I caught how “It’s been a long time coming. We went through managed care in the 90’s and abandoned it. This is different. We are breaking a vicious cycle, finally with the right alignment of incentives. This is why I went into healthcare in the first place.”

What were our steering committee members most concerned about? Patient access was top of mind and the ability to schedule enough appointments for the increased demand for services coming from chronic patients now managed by the new community care coordinators. A CFO expressed some questions about how a new program will affect the finances of his organization. We put him in charge of the program. The change from fee-for-service to a fee-for-value model is a transition. We can go as slow or as fast as the team decides to run, so we start every meeting with getting feedback from the CFO on whether the pace of change is too fast, too slow or just right and adjust the program accordingly.

We are off and running, and so are our member healthcare communities who have enthusiastically joined our effort to help rural communities collaborate in order to be able to afford and qualify for innovative payment models that support better care, lower costs and the sustainability of rural health systems.

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