Early work by Dartmouth Institute researchers
led to the development of the ACO model and its inclusion in national policy.
When groups of health care providers (such as doctors or hospitals and hospital systems) are responsible for both the total cost and the quality of care for a group of patients, they focus on activities like reducing unnecessary tests and improving communication between providers. That is good news for patients who get better care. And good news for everyone who pays for health care—freeing up resources to be better spent on things that matter most.
This is the premise behind an innovative new model of care delivery and payment reform, Accountable Care Organizations—a term first coined by Dartmouth Institute Director Elliott Fisher. ACOs aim to address unsustainable, rising healthcare spending while improving the quality care. With over 800 ACOs currently in existence in all 50 states, ACOs have the potential to improve the health of large numbers of people while reducing health care costs.
Early work by researchers at The Dartmouth Institute led to the development of the ACO model and inclusion of ACOs in national policy. Today, our work examines how ACOs are performing, what changes are taking place in health systems as a result of ACOs, and what impact those changes are having on health care delivery and costs.
Are costs going down as a result of ACOs?
What is the impact on quality?
How is care changing to meet the needs of specific populations, such as chronically ill?
How are organizations making it easier for patients to receive care from primary care providers, rather than making a high-cost visit to the emergency room?
ACO models have been adopted by Medicare, state Medicaid plans, and commercial health insurers, with more than 23 million Americans receiving care from an ACO provider. As ACOs continue to develop and spread, the insights Dartmouth Institute researchers are developing will help health system leaders and policymakers refine the model and continue to introduce innovations that reduce costs and improve quality.