ACO roundup: Task force releases tool to evaluate potential value-based care partners

Key accountable care news from the past week.

  • Coalition releases tool to evaluate potential value-based care partners. The Health Care Transformation Task Force—a coalition of more than 40 payers, providers, buyers, and patient organizations—earlier this month released an interactive tool designed to help users assess themselves and other organizations as potential value-based care partners. The open-source evaluation tool can be downloaded at no cost from the task force website. Brigitte Nettesheim, president of joint venture market operations for Aetna and co-chair of the task force's Path to Transformation Advisory Group, said the tool "helps to facilitate a more comprehensive assessment about a potential partner's demonstrated commitment to value and willingness to collaborate while identifying areas for deeper focus over time."
  • Big hospital mergers lead to better patient care, right? Maybe not. While many health care stakeholders argue that big, merged health systems "can offer better care at lower costs," research suggests that rates of mortality and serious complications may rise after a merger—largely due to a reduction in competition, Austin Frakt writes for the New York Times'"The Upshot." For instance, Frakt cites a study that "found that when cardiology markets are more concentrated, these kinds of patients are more likely to have heart attacks, visit the [ED], be readmitted to the hospital, or die," which demonstrates that "[t]hese effects of market concentration are large." He concludes that while U.S. residents "often think of health care as different—that it somehow shouldn't be 'market based,'" research shows that even in the hospital market "competition is a valuable tool that can drive health care toward greater value."
  • VNA Health Group wins grant for home-based primary care services. The Parker Foundation has awarded $2.5 million to the New Jersey-based Visiting Nurse Association Health Group (VNA) to invest in the organization's Advanced Care Institute, which provides home-based primary care and palliative care services. Steven Landers, a specialist in geriatric medicine who serves as VNA's president and CEO, said the grant will help fund the "the growth and continued development of the Advanced Care Institute, allowing us to do more community outreach, add more physicians, and keep some services going that are hard to sustain financially without philanthropy."

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