Accountable care organizations, scheduled to become part of the Medicare program under the Affordable Care Act, have been promoted as a way to improve health care quality, reduce growth in costs, and increase patients' satisfaction. It is unclear how these organizations will develop. Yet in principle they will have to meet quality metrics, adopt improved care processes, assume risk, and provide incentives for population health and wellness. These capabilities represent a radical departure from today's health delivery system. In May 2010 the Premier healthcare alliance formed the Accountable Care Implementation Collaborative, which consists of health systems that seek to pursue accountability by forming partnerships with private payers to evolve from fee-for-service payment models to new, value-driven models. This article describes how participants in the collaborative are building models and developing best practices that can inform the implementation of accountable care organizations as well as public policies.
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