March 1, 2011

For all the debate, virtually all stakeholders agree with the overall objective of healthcare reform … achieving better health outcomes at lower cost. Different views have emerged as to how best achieve this objective. One model appearing in reform legislation is the Accountable Care Organization (ACO).

In their March 10, 2011 article, The Essence of Accountable Care, authors Rita E. Numerof, Ph.D., President, and Stephen Rothenberg, J.D., Business Analyst, set important context by distinguishing between accountable care (the goal) and accountable care organizations (how to get there). Accountable care (the goal) means restructuring incentives so that providers are directly impacted by the consequences of their decisions on quality and cost. ACOs are just one model for achieving this end — one whose broad effectiveness has yet to be proven. Whether or not your organization ultimately decides to use this particular vehicle, there is nothing stopping you from embedding more accountability throughout your organization now. This article provides a framework for meeting this goal.