By Donald W. Rucker, MD, MS,
care organizations (ACOs) are arguably the signature delivery reform programs
of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACO model has generated much excitement
and discussion – discussion that has been both simplified and complicated by
the fact that this new legal entity didn’t even exist prior to the Medicare
Shared Savings Program (MSSP) provisions of the ACA. In short, ACOs come as
national policy with almost no track record.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Jan. 10 of 2013
that over 250 ACOs now provide care to 4 million of Medicare’s 42 million
my inaugural series of weekly blog posts for Applied Radiology, I will examine ACOs in greater detail. How are
they structured? How do they fit into the big picture of the U.S. healthcare
system? And how can radiologists and other health care professionals predict
whether they will actually work in the manner for which they were designed?
I’ll begin by addressing, in next week’s blog post,
the architecture of the ACO.
Donald W. Rucker, MD, MS, MBA, is vice president and
chief medical officer of Siemens Healthcare USA, the healthcare division of
Siemens. A graduate of Harvard College and the University of Pennsylvania
School of Medicine with Board Certifications in Internal Medicine and Emergency
Medicine, Dr. Rucker holds a master’s degree in Medical Computer Science and an
MBA, both from Stanford. Dr. Rucker came to Siemens from Boston’s Beth Israel
Deaconess Medical Center, where he was the first full-time Emergency Department
attending, and from Datamedic Corp., where he co-developed the first Microsoft
Windows based electronic medical record. Dr. Rucker recently completed two
terms on the Board of Commissioners of the Certification Commission for
Healthcare Information Technology. He also practices emergency medicine in the
University of Pennsylvania Health System.