Can we learn something from America – Accountable Care Organisations
It has become de rigueur on the left to regard the US healthcare system as the very incarnation of evil and therefore a country from which nothing of value can be learned for improving our NHS. This might be about to change. There is now growing interest in the notion of the ‘Accountable Care Organisation’ (ACO) – or as it is tending to be termed over here, the Accountable Integrated Care System.
The Accountable Care Organisation concept is gathering pace in the US following the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which included a pilot programme to explore ACO structures and processes. Under the new law, an ACO would agree to manage all of the healthcare needs of a minimum of 5,000 Medicare beneficiaries for at least three years. The ACO can gain extra money through sharing savings (with Medicare) resulting from collaborative efforts to provide care cost-effectively. Stringent governance conditions must be met, along with transparency and quality performance – Medicare ACOs will report on 33 different quality metrics.
In his recent ‘Green Paper’ speech on future Labour Party health policy, Andy Burnham spoke of the need for “one service co-ordinating all of one person’s needs“, with the district general hospital “evolving over time into an integrated care provider from home to hospital“. Indeed, he went on to say:
“If we look to the US the best providers are working on that highly integrated basis, co-ordinating physical, mental and social care from home to hospital. We have got to take the best of that approach and universalise it here.” See on www.sochealth.co.uk
From the Socialist Health Association of Scotland. I don’t want to think about the ramifications of having an important part of Obamacare endorsed by a socialist health organization. However, labels aside the ability to provide coordination of care in a private setting is a good thing, which is why ACOs are so critical to meaningful healthcare reform.