Executives' Lack of Familiarity With ACOs No Impediment to Implementation

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While a mere 15% of health care executives are “very familiar” with accountable care organizations (ACOs), more than half are proceeding with plans to establish them, according to the 2011 Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Readiness Study released recently by Beacon Partners, a health care consulting company in Weymouth, Massachusetts.

“Clearly, there is still a lot of confusion and uncertainty surrounding ACOs, but most health care organizations understand that they need to move forward with an ACO strategy,” says Beacon Partners Director Kevin Burchill. “This is most likely due to the fact that many C-level executives are optimistic regarding the potential benefits that an ACO model will provide to their organization.”

Of health care executives responding to the study, 62% claim they are “somewhat familiar” with ACOs, and 92%--despite a high level of uncertainty and minimal familiarity with the ACO concept--are either developing or in the pre-planning stages for their own ACO. These figures differ considerably from others released as part of a Beacon study conducted earlier this year, which showed that a far more modest 47% of health care organizations were in the planning and development stages on the ACO front.

In other study findings, 45% of respondents have not earmarked money from their operating budgets toward ACO planning efforts, with 27% unsure of their overall ACO planning budget. Forty-nine percent of respondents demed their CEO the person responsible for ACO development, while 53% have yet to form a department or create an executive role to work on ACO development.
Additionally, 44% of respondents currently have no intention of hiring personnel to handle ACO development, and 25% say they will reallocate existing personnel to execute the job. Forty-four percent of respondents remain uncertain of how an ACO will impact their organization. Of top concerns surrounding the ACO market, 31% of respondents cited undefined rules and confusion about the ACO structure; 17%, high startup costs; and 14%, regulatory issues.

Health care organizations will need to become much more conversant in exactly what an ACO is and what its benefits are in order to successfully promote the concept, Burchill asserts.
“It’s crucial for the industry to improve upon their communication of an ACO’s structure, rules, and benefits,” he purports.” Otherwise there will continue to be some level of negativity surrounding ACOs.”

To download the study, click here: http://www.beaconpartners.com/press_room/pdfs/BeaconPartners_ACO_Study.pdf