For some, the word "risk" can evoke images of loss, damage and danger and may cause a person to take a different course of action. But risk-taking doesn't have to be scary and, in fact, can prove beneficial if a particular risk is understood, evaluated and taken up with full knowledge of what's involved in doing so.
In short, approaching risk in the right way can pay off with big rewards.
That's why the AAFP has planned a webinar to prepare family physicians with the facts they need before assuming risk related to a joining an accountable care organization (ACO) associated with CMS' advanced alternative payment models (APMs).
For those unfamiliar with the term, an ACO is a network of health care professionals and organizations that band together to provide health care services for a defined population of patients. The network is paid to provide coordinated comprehensive care to patients and assumes responsibility for the cost and quality of that care.
This new webinar, dubbed "Are You Ready For Risk In An Alternative Payment Model ACO?" can be viewed live at noon CDT on May 2 and should last about 60 minutes. Cost to AAFP members, residents and new physicians is just $30; nonmembers pay $69.
Those interested in participating are invited to enroll right now for the program.
Family physician Melissa Gerdes, M.D., will host the live event. She brings much experience to the table after serving as chief medical office of the Methodist Alliance for Patients and Physicians,(www.methodisthealthsystem.org) a Dallas-based Medicare ACO that proved to be one of the first such organizations to generate savings.
In fact, in its first three years of operation, this ACO saved CMS some $40 million.
Gerdes is a past president of the Texas AFP and was chair of the AAFP's Commission on Quality and Practice in 2014. She recently relocated to California to take a position at John Muir Health, which is headquartered in Walnut Creek and includes two medical centers and a 1,000-plus multispecialty physician network. There, she's led clinical integration, quality and safety projects.
Gerdes understands how risk is related to physician payment and is well aware of the continuing shift to a value-based U.S. health care system.
During the webinar, she will stress that family physicians need to do their homework before accepting risk contracts associated with advanced APMs -- and that includes knowing the cost of doing business.
Among other things, Gerdes will ensure that physicians
- recognize basic components of risk,
- ascertain their readiness to assume risk,
- understand that performance improvement activities prepare a practice to take on risk, and
- perceive how risk and physician payment are intertwined.
In an interview with AAFP News, Gerdes said she'll give physician "real-life step-wise examples" of how they might approach learning about -- and preparing for -- taking on risk.
"Combining an understanding of the full financial picture of health care delivery with quality outcomes and experience for both the service delivery provider and the patient leads to the best performance in value-based contracts," said Gerdes.
"The full financial picture is only now becoming available under risk and value contracts," she added.
Bottom line, at the end of the session, participants should be able to apply the concepts Gerdes will outline and determine their readiness to join an advanced APM ACO.
This topic is sure to stir up lots of questions; rest assured that Gerdes will allow time to address them at the end of the session.
And if you can't make the original May 2 release date, know that the webinar will be available to purchasers for on-demand viewing.
Related AAFP News Coverage
AAFP Position Paper
Academy Presents Advanced APM for Primary Care
More From AAFP
MACRA Ready: The Shift to Value-Based Payment
Quality Payment Program(qpp.cms.gov)