Accountable care organizations (ACOs) are provider-based networks who utilize data analytics and population health management strategies to increase efficiency, improve patient outcomes, and reduce healthcare costs.
The ACO is a group of healthcare providers who voluntarily come together to coordinate healthcare services and engage in value-based payment models.
The goal of coordinated care is to ensure that patients, especially the chronically ill, get the right care at the right time, while avoiding unnecessary duplication of services and preventing medical errors.
Originally established in 2012 as a Medicare payment model, the ACO is now also seen in private payer settings across the healthcare spectrum.
However, beyond the obvious fact that an ACO is a network of providers, at its core, the focus is on streamlining and optimizing the quality of care.
The foundation of an ACO is often in primary care, but it typically incorporates many specialists (and specialties), hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities or services as well.