Quality of Patient Care in ACOs Is Focus of Two New Studies

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<p>Accountable care organizations (ACOs) hold promise to improve health care outcomes and lower treatment costs. Two Commonwealth Fund–supported studies in <em>Health Affairs </em>offer new insights into how well ACOs have performed so far for the populations they serve.</p><p><a href="/publications/journal-article/2017/jan/aco-affiliated-hospitals-reduced-rehospitalizations-skilled">ACO-Affiliated Hospitals Reduced Rehospitalizations from Skilled Nursing Facilities Faster Than Other Hospitals</a>. By Ulrika Winblad, Vincent Mor, John P. McHugh, and Momotazur Rahman.</p>
<p style="text-align: left;">This study of hospitals in metropolitan areas found those affiliated with ACOs were faster than non-affiliated hospitals in reducing 30-day readmission rates for Medicare patients previously discharged to skilled nursing facilities. The authors say the greater success of ACO hospitals on this key measure of care coordination may be attributable to improvements they’ve made in discharge practices or to better communication with skilled nursing facilities. </p>
<p style="text-align: left;"><a href="/publications/journal-article/2017/jan/acos-serving-high-proportions-racial-and-ethnic-minorities">ACOs Serving High Proportions of Racial and Ethnic Minorities Lag in Quality Performance</a>. By Valerie A. Lewis, Taressa Fraze, Elliott S. Fisher, Stephen M. Shortell, and Carrie H. Colla.</p>
<p style="text-align: left;">Overall, the ACOs in Medicare’s Shared Savings Program—which provides participating organizations with incentives to lower health care cost growth while meeting quality performance standards—have increased their quality of care during the first three years. But the performance of ACOs serving large numbers of racial and ethnic minorities was lower on most measures compared to ACOs with small minority enrollments. The researchers say the difference is only partially explained by minority patients’ greater health risks and lower socioeconomic status; disparities in provider quality and resources available for quality improvement also may play important roles.</p>