Douglas Pogue, MD, internal medicine and medical director, BJC ACO, speaks to patients about the ACO emphasis on physician communication.
The decision for BJC HealthCare to apply to become an ACO is the result of a thoughtful process. It was accepted that the federal government would be changing the reimbursement methodology for all providers of care -- paying for patient outcomes rather than episodes of care.
Since early 2011, BJC has been actively engaged in learning as much as possible about Accountable Care Organizations and the benefits to patients, clinicians and BJC as a whole. A cross-organizational team was established of physicians and nurses; and staff of IT, clinical excellence, finance, managed care, communications and other departments. The team is led by Sandra Van Trease, BJC group president.
“Improving the quality of patient care and lowering health care costs are only possible through better collaboration between patients, physicians and hospitals,” says Van Trease. “Our selection as an Accountable Care Organization is evidence that our team is on the right track. This provides one more opportunity to make medicine better across BJC.”
Fee-for-service Medicare patients who see providers who are participating in a Medicare ACO maintain all their Medicare rights, including the right to choose any doctors and providers that accept Medicare. Whether a provider chooses to participate in an ACO, their patients with Medicare may continue to see them.
“Better coordinated care is good for patients and it saves money,” says U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in the press release announcing the providers selected as Accountable Care Organizations. “We applaud every one of these doctors, hospitals, health centers and others for working together to ensure millions of people with Medicare get better, more patient-centered, coordinated care.”
BJC has initiated many projects to better coordinate care, improve population health and lower costs. These include accrediting all BJC Medical Group primary care practices as Level III Patient-Centered Medical Homes through the National Committee for Quality Assurance, and installing new population risk management and patient registry systems.