ACO roundup: How the focus on population health is changing where nurses work

Key accountable care news from Dec. 23 to Jan. 6

The Daily Briefing editorial team rounds up recent accountable care news.

  • What's next for new nurses. More nurses are finding work outside of the hospital as more care moves into outpatient settings amid an increased focus on population health. According to research from the RN Work Project at New York University, about 76% of new nurses took jobs in U.S. hospitals in 2012—down from 87% in 2005. Christine Kovner, co-director of the RN Work Project, predicts "the percentage of experienced hospital nurses going into 'community jobs' will increase as the jobs in case management and ambulatory care are seen as more desirable."

Why the nursing shortage may not be as bad as once thought—and what it means for hospitals

  • ACOs get the pediatric treatment. ACOs are most commonly associated with older patients, but a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics suggests the model could be useful among children as well. Researchers from Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota looked at the effect of an ACO the system had set up to manage the treatment of children enrolled in Medicaid with chronic conditions. Overall, the study found that the ACO contributed to a 40% reduction in inpatient days, a 23% increase in outpatient visits, and an uptick in prescription drug use.
  • Kaiser gives primary care docs an affordability dashboard. To help patients control their out-of-pocket costs and promote cost-conscious behavior among physicians, Kaiser Permanente's Colorado Permanente Medical Group (CPMG) built a software dashboard for its primary care physicians. Launched at three clinics in 2013, the dashboard classifies patient expenses on services, highlights high-cost utilization, and benchmarks doctors' average per-patient spending. According to CPMG's executive medical director, Margaret Ferguson, the tool has improved patient's financial health by steering them to lower-cost treatment options and shorter inpatient stays.

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