BEND, OR -- St. Charles Medical Group has partnered with the Central Oregon Independent Practice Association and six other local family care providers in a new Accountable Care Organization (ACO). The groups were created as part of the Affordable Care Act, and are designed to help patients by rewarding providers for delivering high quality care.
The goal of this new local ACO is said to ensure that Medicare patients, especially those with chronic illnesses, get the right care at the right time, without duplication of services and with fewer medical errors. St. Charles Senior VP Dr. Jim Guyn says the health care system is currently set up to reward providers based on how many services they provided, "That's the thing about 'fee for service' versus 'fee for value.' 'Fee for service,' the way it works in America is, you're paid for a specific service: you go in, and they do something, and they get paid for it. It doesn't matter what happens to you. And what we're all moving towards is 'fee for value.' So, you get paid, partially at least, based upon the outcome: did it turn out well?"
Dr. Guyn is also a family practitioner, and says ACOs will take away the need for patients to 'shop' their health care, looking for the lowest price. "There's a huge amount of variability in our system. They individually negotiate contracts, and the contracts are all different. But, one of the ways that we look at things internally is, 'Where's our variability? How can we be more efficient at managing this?' So, there's a lot of opportunity that we see in our ability to deliver care differently." He tells KBND News, "We have to figure out a better way of doing this, and Medicare is being very helpful by saying, 'Let's pay for care differently, so you can do different care.' Because the problem is, you get what you pay for. Let's try to figure out a better way of delivering healthcare so it's a higher quality, lower cost and much more satisfactory for the patient."
The organizations involved in the new local ACO have agreed to a three-year commitment, taking it through 2020.