A Collection of Advice for Medical Imaging to Survive and Thrive through ACO Engagement
Here we stand, on the precipice of a new era marked by value-based care and accountable care organizations (ACOs), and for all intents and purposes, the jury’s still out on whether these new models will succeed.
The future remains to be written, but wise radiology groups should, nonetheless, consider implementing strategies for surviving and thriving in this changing healthcare landscape. As in so many other areas of life, it’s not necessarily a case of deciding whether you’re “all in” with ACOs or just not playing the game. Odds are, the ideal solution lies somewhere in between.
That said, here are some collective ways your medical imaging practice can leverage industry insight and best practices to be a part of true ACO engagement – and thrive in its wake.
What are some tips you can share to other medical imaging providers on how to survive & thrive in the world of ACOs?
Signing on as an independent contractor, or full partner
As a way to preserve your group’s independence, contracting with an ACO is a viable option, says Jeff Milburn, a consultant with MGMA Healthcare Consulting Group. It’s not much different from contracting with insurance companies or healthcare systems, and in return for a discount on services, your practice gets a guaranteed volume of patients. Alternatively, a practice might go a step further and become formal partners and share in the risks and reward model of ACOs.
Add value to the healthcare experience
Steven E. Seltzer, M.D., and Thomas Lee, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, recently wrote in the article, "The Transformation of Diagnostic Radiology in the ACO Era," that the best option for medical imaging practices is to focus on "improving value for patient segments defined by medical condition." That means radiologists must take on new, more consulting-oriented roles, such as consulting on the appropriate use of imaging at an institution, profiling imaging test usage at the clinician level to provide feedback on patterns and others.
Get—and stay—engaged with your surroundings
Regardless of how ACOs play out in the months and years ahead, radiologists must avoid being a part of the problems that must be solved (i.e. over usage of imaging). Instead, they should become fully engaged and play a proactive role in choosing solutions and how they evolve over time. Indeed, an op-ed piece that recently appeared in the Journal of the American College of Radiology encourages all radiologists to get involved with ACOs:
"There are numerous practical lessons that can be learned and will be shared with other ACR members through RICN's activities," wrote David Rosman, M.D., chairman of the ACR’s Radiology Integrated Care (RIC) Network, a group charged with monitoring radiology-ACO activity. "One overwhelming initial conclusion is that radiologists must be engaged in the development and operation of these 'new' healthcare delivery models."
Suggestions for further reading: