By Phil Miller, Vice President, Communications, Merritt Hawkins
Everyone knows that forming an ACO will not be easy.
The new ACO regulations recently released by CMS were greeted with considerable blowback by the industry and are thought to be too complex and difficult. Some observers are saying the cost to form and operate ACOs will be prohibitive, while information technology implementation will remain a challenge.
But in a new survey by AMN Healthcare, Merritt Hawkins’ parent company, healthcare facility administrators and physicians report that the most serious obstacle they face in forming ACOs is physician alignment.
The survey asked hospital executives and physicians about their participation in ACOs, and whether or not ACOs will deliver significant cost and quality benefits.
Fifty-eight percent of 882 administrators and physicians responding to the survey indicated their facilities are either in the process of forming ACOs or are considering doing so, while 42% said their facilities will not form ACOs in the foreseeable future.
Of those who are moving toward ACOs, 42% said physician alignment is the most serious obstacle to their efforts, followed by lack of capital (38%), lack of integrated IT systems (31%), and lack of evidence-based treatment protocol data (25%).
Of those who are not moving toward ACOs, 40% cited physician alignment as a reason they are not, followed by lack of capital (31%), lack of integrated IT systems (26%), and lack of evidence-based treatment protocol data (23%).
The survey underlines a story familiar to those who lived through the last push toward health reform in the 1990s. Health reform is all about influencing how physicians practice – moving them from volume-based incentives to value-based incentives in a more integrated, outcomes-oriented system. This proved difficult to accomplish during the last go-around with health reform and the survey suggests it will prove difficult in the current iteration of reform.
However, the survey does suggest that the majority of healthcare facility administrators and physicians still hold out hope that ACOs will deliver significant cost and quality benefits over time. Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that ACOs will deliver benefits and that they are a key to enhancing quality and reducing costs.
Click here to go to AMN Healthcare’s Industry Research page and scan down to the Survey section to find the “Physician Alignment Primary Obstacle to ACO Formation” item.