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Are accountable care organizations 'improving population health'?
Date:3/19/2013

NEW YORK (March 19, 2013) -- Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), a key feature of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aim to control health care costs, enhance quality in health care and improve population health. But what does "improving population health" really mean? This is the question asked in a new viewpoint article by Weill Cornell Medical College researchers published in the March 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The authors argue a clear definition is crucial in order to formulate effective health care and social service policy.

Section 3022 of the ACA, which created the Medicare Shared Savings ACO program, states the program "promotes accountability for a patient population."

"This phrase sets the tone for the meaning of population health as applied to ACOs -- implying that it is the health of the Medicare beneficiaries attributed to a provider organization, not the health of all people living in an ACO's geographic area," says lead author Dr. Douglas Noble, Commonwealth Fund Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice in the Department of Public Health at Weill Cornell. Dr. Noble also serves as a public health physician and clinical lecturer in the global health, policy and innovation unit at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry in the United Kingdom.

"Many ACOs appear to interpret their responsibility for population health in medical terms -- that is, as a responsibility to provide preventive care for all their patients and care management for their patients with serious chronic diseases," says senior author Dr. Lawrence P. Casalino, the Livingston Farrand Associate Professor of Public Health and chief of the Division of Outcomes and Effectiveness Research at Weill Cornell. "This is a major step forward from the traditional model in medical care, which has been to focus on whatever patients appear in the physician's office, while the patient is in
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Contact: Lauren Woods
Law2014@med.cornell.edu
646-317-7401
Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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