What makes a successful ACO?

If you’re reading this, you probably already know that Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are groups of physicians, hospitals and providers who work together to provide a continuum of care to Medicare patients. But what you might not know is what qualities and habits make a successful ACO. As 2015 begins, now is the time for those considering a transition into ACO work to examine the ins and outs of this system and see if it might fit within your organizational or goal structure.


To help you decide, we’ve pulled together the top 5 secrets for successful ACOs. In reality, the transition into a successful ACO is easier than you might expect.

1. Employee engagement

When it comes to ACOs, everyone needs to be on board with the success of the organization. Employers must work to explicitly show the hard data and statistics to their team members so the value and savings become clear. When employees become disengaged and lose confidence in the organization, the ACO begins to fail.

2. Patient involvement

Right from the start, your Medicare patients should be part of the transition into ACO care. They should be giving feedback on the design model and there should be boundless transparency to foster trust with patients. Being up front with patients helps foster a strong relational foundation and will retain patients year after year.

3. Expenses

To be a successful ACO, you have to really watch your costs. In fact, Medicare recently announced that it will release its claims data information so that ACOs can study the numbers and find ways to make ACOs more efficient and effective.

4. Doctor buy-in

Your physicians need to be 100% on board with the ACO model and be fully aware of their responsibilities.  Each doctor should be educated and trained on how the system works as a whole to properly understand the big picture. From there, each healthcare provider is held responsible for his/her own duties. It is called “accountable” care, after all.

5. Large patient base

While most ACOs require a patient base of 5,000, a larger base and higher volume means you’ll be more likely to pay off infrastructure costs. Increasing the number of Medicare patients an ACO sees is one way to ensure patients are always coming through the door.

Now, the ACO model isn’t for everyone, but for many, it means a whole new way to provide high-quality Medicare healthcare services. The rules and regulations for ACOs are ever-changing, too. This type of organization is still new, so now is the time to make the conversion before the three year time frame ends for penalty-free cost overages.

Thinking about conversion? We can help.