New Study Highlights Potential Benefits of Accountable Care

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<p>A Medicare pilot program that financially rewarded physicians for meeting cost and quality targets achieved significant savings in the care provided to a patient population that is especially burdened by illness and costly health care needs, according to a study released today. The <a href="/publications/journal-article/2012/sep/spending-differences-associated-medicare-physician-group">new research</a>, which appears in the <em>Journal of the American Medical Association</em> (Sept. 12), highlights the promise of new models of delivering health care, including accountable care organizations, that reward providers for coordinating and improving patient care—and that may slow cost growth in treating some of the sickest patients. </p><p>The study, conducted by the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice, focused on the Physician Group Practice Demonstration, which ran from 2005 to 2010. Ten physician groups, representing 5,000 physicians and 220,000 Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries, received bonus payments if they met quality targets and reduced spending on care. The Dartmouth researchers found that participating practices generated particularly large savings in the care of "dual eligibles"—the low-income elderly individuals and people with disabilities who are enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid. </p>
<p>Funding for the study was provided by the Dartmouth Atlas Project and with support from the National Institute on Aging and The Commonwealth Fund. </p>