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Accountable Care Organizations 101

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With the upholding of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (known popularly as PPACA or “Obamacare”) a legislative path has been laid in the direction of healthcare reform. Accountable care organizations (ACOs) will play an important part in moving the healthcare industry down that path, but the full scope of their involvement remains to be seen.

My own reading about ACOs has revealed the great deal of legal jargon and “in-speak” surrounding them. To help spur continuing dialogue about the implications of ACOs, the basics of this component of the PPACA and what it means in our industry are broken down into laymen’s terms below:


What exactly is an ACO?

An ACO is an association that coordinates all the parties involved in patient care to improve both quality and efficiency. ACOs increase communication and cooperation between the numerous specialists seen by patients. As miscommunications and redundant tests and procedure are reduced, overall patient care becomes better and the cost of care goes down. Part of the savings or reimbursements garnered from these increases in efficiency are then distributed among the members of the ACO.


What is an ACO responsible for?

ACOs are responsible for tracking and reporting to HHS performance on quality measures such as prevention, disease identification, ongoing intervention, patient satisfaction, and total cost of care. This tracking demonstrates the degree to which the ACO improves patient care and reduces costs and reveals areas in which further development is needed. (Amerinet(now Intalere, 2011)


What do ACOs have to do with refurbished imaging equipment?

While quality of care is the primary focus of ACOs, the need to address the secondary focus of cost reduction is stark. As ACOs pursue that goal, partnering with a refurbished equipment vendor for their next upgrade or initial purchase will be an increasingly valuable option for cutting down capital costs as well as ongoing maintenance overhead.

Whether or not your hospital or imaging center is part of an ACO, improved care and reduced costs are always better for your patients and your business. See the resources below for more information on current ACO developments and to find out how refurbished equipment can help your site with these goals:


How do you think accountable care organizations will change the quality and cost of healthcare in America? We’d love to see your comments below. Look for more information as a clearer picture of ACOs and PPACA begins to emerge in both implementation and the practical conversations of those in the field.

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