The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) describes Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) as groups of doctors, physicians, nurses, support staff, hospitals, healthcare centers that voluntarily work together to provide benefit to Medicare patients.
ACOs are formed to provide timely and quality healthcare services to people who are aged 65 and above and who are suffering from chronic diseases. Since all healthcare service providers are working in liaison in this model, there is no duplication of services provided to the patients.
Only Medicare patients are covered in the ACO model. These are the patients who are suffering from chronic and end stage renal diseases.
The ACO model works on voluntary basis. However, it is eligible to share profits after showing that they have made a considerable effort in cutting down the costs of services and have saved from their budget. The service providers in this model also need to prove that they are providing quality healthcare to the patients.
The impact of ACOs is huge on the healthcare industry. They enable the provision of robust and quality care to old people and save them from the stress of waiting in long queues.
Another important aspect of being an entity in the ACO model is that all healthcare providers understand each other and always refer the patient for further treatment in the same circle. Doctors and their support staff better understand each other and can share the mutual benefits of mutual resources whenever required. They are not required to invest heavily in medical infrastructure and can share resources with each other.
The ACO model, which is also part of the much-debated and under-fire Obamacare, the healthcare act which the U.S. government has been trying to pass in Congress, aims to provide better healthcare to patients who are in need and try to set uniform fees for healthcare services provided. This means that the government will have better control over what the doctors are charging their patients and how to regulate their fees. Another advantage of this model is that patients will have the liberty to see and consult any doctor in the same model or even outside of it without having to pay anything extra.
The model also ensures complete patient care because if the healthcare providers in the model are not providing complete care, they will not make any profit and may lose their contract as well.
Another advantage of the ACO model is that physicians and healthcare providers will be able to capture more market share than they do now and will be able to survive in the future despite the planned upcoming sequester cuts on the healthcare industry.
Initially, the healthcare providers might feel they are being overly controlled by the government, but the aim of the model is the provision of top quality healthcare and associated services to those who are in need of it.
This model will make sure the overall standards of healthcare industry improve and the ultimate beneficiaries – patients, receive the treatment and care they deserve.