Act now on ACOs

Friday, March 22, 2013

Due to the rapid growth of accountable care organizations (ACOs), HME providers can’t afford to wait until all the details are ironed out before they join in the fray, stakeholders say. 

“ACOs represent a significant portion of the market share now, and they’re the fastest growing portion,” said Greg Shockey, managing member of Accountable Care Expos, which provides opportunities for stakeholders throughout the healthcare continuum to network and share information. “The numbers have steadily gone up.”

CMS in January announced an additional 106 ACOs, bringing the total to more than 250 nationwide. The initiative kicked off in January 2012.

It’s the perfect time for providers to help shape the still evolving ACOs, either as a participant (part of the organization’s structure) or as a preferred provider (outside of the structure but working with the organization), stakeholders say.

“Providers need to prove their ability to reduce readmissions or improve compliance rates,” said Alan Morris, director of alternate care programs for The VGM Group. “That’s going to be a key for the ACO.”

Besides getting in on the ground floor, there’s another option: Join one of the existing ACOs, stakeholders say.

“Most ACOs are looking for more providers,” Shockey said. “They’re all looking to expand and grow.” 

While most providers will opt to pursue preferred provider relationships because they’re easier to arrange and most similar to their existing relationships, stakeholders see them taking on more active roles as time goes on.

“I think five years from now the story will be very different,” said Morris. “The time is now for HME providers to seek those preferred provider relationships that will hopefully grow into ACO participation in the future.”