Why ACOs Should Be Considered by Independent Primary Care Physicians

Primary care physicians have been asking themselves how they can survive and thrive in a reimbursement environment that is increasingly biased toward consolidation, specialists, and large health systems.

Empowered independent primary care practices will help create a health system that is better for patients, better for society, and better for physicians. And one of the best models is that of the physician-owned Accountable Care Organization (ACO).

ACOs work because they are built around the same core principles as the physicians who join them: ensuring that patients get the right care at the right time. ACOs are similar to direct primary care and concierge medicine in that they focus on disease prevention and keeping patients healthy.

Some ACOs and managed care arrangements had issues during their developmental phase, but the idea of value-based reimbursement has come a long way since then. Physician-owned ACOs are designed to make sure that much of the savings from preventing costly hospital stays and unnecessary procedures goes back to the primary care practice whose work made it possible.

The model created by Aledade, a McKesson Ventures portfolio company, takes the focus on physicians one step further, since it’s not owned or managed by a hospital or health care plan. Aledade’s model provides a way for doctors to form ACOs without any upfront costs, and the company immediately invests in practices that join an ACO. Aledade works with its technology and policy experts and local partners to provide technology and analytics that help physicians make the most of electronic health records, population health data, and patient claims.

While ACOs are not the same as a full shift to direct pay, they do empower independent doctors to take control of their practice and patients’ health. They also solve regulatory and reimbursement problems that have driven so many physicians to consider direct primary care and concierge medicine, while allowing practices to fully serve their patient population and remain independent within the system.

The full essay by Aledade Executive Director Blaine W. Lindsey originally appeared on Concierge Medicine Today.