FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kim Kaiser
Essentia Health Marketing & Communications
February 11, 2013
Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are the foundation of federal healthcare reform – but what does it mean to be an ACO? And how do patients, businesses and insurers know which ACOs are positioned to deliver the greatest value for each healthcare dollar?
The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has answered those questions with a new accreditation program designed to take the guesswork out of identifying high-value ACOs. Essentia Health is proud to be one of the first six healthcare organizations in the country to receive this designation.
The three-year accreditation, issued by NCQA, recognizes that Essentia Health’s ACO is well-positioned to meet healthcare’s Triple Aim of improving clinical quality, enhancing patient experience and reducing overall healthcare costs.
Essentia Health Chief Operating Officer John Smylie will discuss ACOs and the NCQA accreditation process this Wednesday during a webinar sponsored by the NCQA (click here to see details
). He will be speaking along with representatives from the other five newly accredited ACOs.
ACOs are groups of doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers who provide coordinated, high-quality care while also reducing costs.
While most healthcare experts agree ACOs are a good idea, it hasn’t been clear what a good ACO looks like. By creating an accreditation program, the NCQA has established a set of best practice standards that can be used nationwide.
“Basically, NCQA has created a blueprint for providing and coordinating care as an ACO,” explains Smylie. “If we follow the practices outlined by the NCQA, we will raise our quality and ultimately lower costs for payers and patients.”
Being named an accredited ACO by the NCQA helps purchasers and insurance providers identify effective partners. It also helps patients find physicians who are committed to providing the quality care they need, when they need it.
“By earning NCQA Accreditation, Essentia Health has demonstrated to payers and other purchasers that it has met challenging requirements designed to show the efficiency, integration and high quality expected of an ACO. NCQA Accreditation also shows patients and providers Essentia Health is prepared to deliver on the promise of better care on all these dimensions,” said Margaret E. O’Kane, President of NCQA.
About Essentia Health:
Essentia Health, headquartered in Duluth, Minn., is an integrated health system serving patients in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Idaho. Essentia’s 12,800 employees and physicians are committed to making a healthy difference in the lives of the people they serve. The organization includes 18 hospitals, 68 clinics, eight long-term care facilities, two assisted living facilities, four independent living facilities and one research institute. Essentia is currently operating federal and state ACO contracts for Medicare and Medicaid patients, as well as three contracts with large health insurers, including HealthPartners.
NCQA is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving healthcare quality. NCQA accredits and certifies a wide range of healthcare organizations. It also recognizes clinicians and practices in key areas of performance. NCQA is committed to providing healthcare quality information for consumers, purchasers, healthcare providers and researchers.