The decision to become an ACO and participate in Medicare’s Shared Savings Program is not one to take lightly given the major challenges the model presents in terms of patient loyalty, quality, performance, etc.
The ACO model also carries significant implications for marketing departments. Organizations that choose to participate in the Shared Savings Program will need to carefully monitor efforts to communicate with patients, including marketing efforts, to ensure compliance with program requirements. In its proposed rule for the Shared Savings Program, Medicare proposes to require that any materials or activities that communicate to patients the organization’s participation in shared savings must be pre-approved by Medicare. This includes mailings, outreach events, marketing materials, and webpages. It applies equally to materials intended for communication with providers. In addition, any changes to approved materials would require reapproval.
Medicare wants to approve communication to ensure that patients do not mistakenly believe that their freedom of provider choice is somehow limited because one of their providers is part of an ACO. Medicare has designed the Shared Savings Program to preserve patient freedom of choice and wants to avoid any misrepresentation of the program—whether intentional or not—to patients. Unfortunately, this requirement would impose a significant burden on participating providers, who would face a significant administrative burden in processing all materials and any changes to the materials through Medicare.
One other related piece of the Shared Savings Program: Medicare has proposed to require ACO participants to provide notification to patients that the provider is participating in an ACO. As part of this notification, providers participating in shared savings must post signs identifying the provider as a shared savings participant within their facilities, as well as make standardized written information about shared savings available.
Marketing and Planning Leadership Council members may access a summary of the Shared Savings Program requirements for marketing. For additional background on the shared savings program proposed rule, members may listen to archived recordings of a webconference on the topic.