Accountable Care Organizations (ACO)
Boldly going where few health care systems have gone before, Baylor is exploring the universe of accountable care. The 13-hospital, 4,500-physican health care system based in Dallas is placing itself front and center of insurance companies, employers, and patients themselves as it takes on the role of accountable care organization, a concept still not fully baked. It aims to convert itself to an ACO by 2015.
Generally speaking, an ACO is a local health care organization plus such providers as physicians, hospitals, therapists and home care workers. Collectively, they are accountable to each other for the cost and quality of care relative to established metrics. When they meet or exceed cost and care objectives, they receive a bonus. For most in the health care industry, the ACO concept presumes that doctors or hospitals will fill the role, stands in contrast to earlier reform efforts that tapped insurers as cost guardian.