Accountable Care Organizations: A primer

[Minnesota Medicine, January 01, 0001]

Accountable care organizations (ACOs) are being hailed as a promising element of health care reform, as some believe they will be critical to improving the quality of care and holding down costs. Several state and federal ACO demonstration projects are scheduled to begin in the near future. Yet, questions abound as to what exactly an ACO is and how they work.

Some provider organizations and private insurers are not waiting for the federal government to define ACOs for them and have moved forward with new arrangements. The Northwest Metro Alliance, a collaboration between Mercy Hospital, Allina Medical Clinic, HealthPartners Medical Group, and HealthPartners Health Plan, has established a shared-savings model focused on improving population health, improving the patient experience, and reducing spending.

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