Give them a reason to get on board
David Hanekom, MD, CEO at Arizona Care Network, a 5,000-clinician ACO that treats patients in Maricopa and Pinal counties, notes that 90% of its physicians are independent, which means they don’t work for the network. This can be particularly challenging, because the ACO has to provide these independent physicians with a reason to want to be involved in ACO-related initiatives, he says.
To encourage care coordination and improve care quality, physicians the health system provides monetary incentives if they meet standards related to:
- Depression screening
- Statin therapy for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease
- Control of diabetic patients’ A1c levels
- Coordinating in-network care
Since the health system needs to communicate with a broad audience of providers, it also focuses on ongoing communication, from e-mails to regular in-person meetings to site visits to address issues at the practice level.
Other features of Arizona Care Network’s success include publishing quality data based on the above metrics for individual providers to see where they rank vis a vis their peers, and care management, which includes nurses and behavioral health specialists who assess social determinants of care, ensure patients understand their care plans, and remove barriers for patients trying to adhere to their treatment plans, says Hanekom.
Arizona Care Network has been able to reduce hospitalization, emergency room utilization, and heart attacks among Medicare patients with screening, hypertension control, smoking cessation, and other care coordination activities. From 2016 through 2017, UnitedHealthcare members attributed to the ACO’s providers had a 10.4% reduction in inpatient admissions for heart-related events and a 13% reduction in the need for cardiac bypass and angioplasty.
Aine Cryts is a writer based in Boston.