For family physicians hungry for reliable information about accountable care organizations, or ACOs, the Academy has scheduled a webinar titled "Accountable Care Organizations and You: How ACOs Affect Your Practice(intercallus.reg.meeting-stream.com)." Registration for the June 22, 1-2 p.m. CDT, webinar is now open, and participation is free for AAFP members. (Editor's Note: Members may still register to view the archived webinar.)
According to the AAFP's Medical Director of Quality Improvement Bruce Bagley, M.D., who is moderating the webinar with Terry McGeeney, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of TransforMED, the emphasis will be on clarifying issues surrounding ACOs and helping give "in-the-trenches" family physicians some sense of direction if they choose to become involved with ACOs.
"With all the buzz about ACOs, there's still a lot of mystery and a lot of uncertainty about what this model means to physician practices," said Bagley. "The webinar on June 22 will bring that conversation down to an easy-to-understand level and try to establish some expectations about how important this movement could be for our members."
The following specific issues are slated for discussion:
- What is an ACO?
- How does the patient-centered medical home align with the ACO model?
- What impact will the ACO model have on a physician's practice?
- How is an ACO different from Medicare?
The ACO webinar will be archived and available for downloading at a future date.
In related news, CMS also is working on resources to get physicians up to speed about the ACO model. In a May 17 news release(www.cms.gov), CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, M.D., said that improving health care delivery to patients is key to reducing health care spending. "When we improve the coordination of care between providers, reduce duplication of services and avoid medical errors, we can get better outcomes for patients at less cost," said Berwick.
CMS described three new initiatives(www.healthcare.gov) and said all were intended to give physicians more options and encouragement regarding ACO participation.
One resource is a free class that will be offered four times in 2011. Dubbed the Accelerated Development Learning Program(acoregister.rti.org), the course is designed to help physicians develop an action plan for improving health care delivery and providing more coordinated patient care in the ACO model.
The first of the four sessions is scheduled for June 20-22 in Minneapolis. Additional sessions are scheduled for later in the year in San Francisco, Atlanta and Philadelphia. According to CMS, the sessions will be webcast, and all materials will be publicly available.
In addition, CMS is accepting comments on its proposed Pioneer ACO Model, which is designed to provide a way for mature ACOs (i.e., those already up and running) to move forward more quickly.
CMS also is seeking input on a proposed Advance Payment ACO initiative that would give certain ACOs participating in the Medicare Share Savings Program access to their shared savings upfront. According to the release, doing so would help those ACOs "make the infrastructure and staff investments crucial to successfully coordinating and improving care for patients."