Partnering with hospitals in the ACO era (Part I)

The conversation surrounding Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) has ratcheted up in recent weeks following an announcement by The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the proposed rule concerning the formation of ACOs. And last week the conversation continued among the providers who attended a session on the topic at the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) Conference & Expo in Orlando.

There, Sarah Katz, a consultant with The Advisory Board Company, detailed strategic considerations for post-acute care providers. It was a valuable primer on hospitals’ approach to relationship development with suggestions on how post-acute and long-term care providers can position themselves to optimize partnerships.

At issue: Hospitals are confronting a broader quality mandate as determined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) but are hampered by weak relationships. Critical failure points in hospital/post-acute provider alignment include a lack of standardized referral protocols, uncoordinated patient follow-up, limited visibility into quality performance, and minimal clinician communication.

The playbook for becoming an essential hospital partner and developing an accountable care strategy comprises three pillars with 10 steps, according to Katz:

Determine Market Position

1. Identify potential ACO leaders

2. Align with post-acute providers to offer integrated services

Differentiate on Quality and Service

3. Reorganize services around disease states—essential to ACO success

4. Track clinical metrics aligned with ACO clinical quality goals

5. Organize metrics in readable format for key hospital constituencies

6. Support patient placement process

Hardwire Connectivity

7. Build a quality improvement infrastructure

8. Prepare workforce for accountable care

9. Scale IT investments to the state of ACO development

10. Establish cross-continuum care protocols

In my next blog, I’ll share more of Katz’s lessons for providers preparing for ACO’s future and some of the feedback attendees provided during her session.

And, for additional information on this topic, join us next Wednesday, April 20 for a webinar on ACOs titled "The Countdown to Outcome-Driven Healthcare—Are You Ready?" The program will educate providers on core strategies including how to differentiate, accelerate, compete, and win in today’s ACO-driven healthcare environment. To register, click here.

Topics: Articles