In an effort to equip Academy members with more information about accountable care organizations, or ACOs, the AAFP has created a document that answers some of family physicians' most frequently asked questions, or FAQs.
The online resource, "Everything you need to know about Accountable Care Organizations (in plain English)," begins with a definition of the ACO model -- a model that has ignited a firestorm of interest across the country ever since it was included in the Patient Protection and Accountable Care Act legislation. CMS currently is working on revising regulations for the final model.
According to the AAFP document, "An ACO is a group of health care providers who agree to take on a shared responsibility for the care of a defined population of patients while assuring active management of both the quality and cost of that care."
The FAQ document also provides more than two dozen answers to questions such as:
- How do you get paid in an ACO?
- What is shared savings, and how will the savings be distributed to providers?
- What is risk adjustment in the context of an ACO?
- How is efficiency measured?
- What should you consider if approached to sell your practice?
- Are ACOs just a passing fad, or are they here to stay?
- What actions should you take immediately?
The answer to the final question addresses where family physicians can get additional help and provides direct links to information from the Academy and TransforMED, a not-for-profit subsidiary of the AAFP.
Bruce Bagley, M.D., the AAFP's medical director of quality improvement, was the primary author of the FAQ document. "We created the FAQ because there is a tremendous amount of confusion, fear and misunderstanding about ACOs," said Bagley. "The idea was to create simple answers to everyday questions."
According to Bagley, the answers in the FAQ are not in-depth, "but they should go a long way toward helping physicians understand the basic issues surrounding ACOs."
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