Recently, I was fortunate to host a Utah Partnership for Value (UPV) panel featuring local clinics participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Plan Accountable Care Organization (MSSP ACO) program, a federal program that pays providers for delivering better outcomes and lowering cost as appropriate, rather than just paying for each item of service. UPV was also privileged to have a national perspective assist in the discussion, with Tom Merrill, a senior research partner with Leavitt Partners and expert on ACOs, joining the panel. These MSSP value payment arrangements started in 2012, and Utah clinics—Granger, Exodus and Revere—were able to share some of the earliest lessons and suggestions for Utah's success in this new arena of paying medical providers not just for volume of services, but for the best possible outcomes and quality at the right cost.
So what did they say? Not surprising was the value of capturing and sharing data from electronic health records, knowing about the kinds of patients and conditions represented in a practice, communicating to others about the care delivered, and locating a patient's medical information wherever they seek care. Data helps providers understand patient needs so they can assist them more efficiently. It was also no surprise that the data that Medicare provides these clinics, as they participate in the MSSP ACO, shows them places where they need to develop new processes. For instance, one clinic is now addressing their post-acute care relationships and communication.