After five years in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center Pioneer Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Model, which is being phased out by CMS, Partners HealthCare has chosen to continue to optimize the care for Medicare beneficiaries under a similar initiative called the Next Generation ACO Model. Similar to previous ACO models like the Medicare Shared Savings Program and Pioneer ACO Model, the Next Generation ACO Model rewards providers and health care organizations for delivering high-quality, coordinated care, while keeping costs on par with a national spending benchmark. The Next Generation ACO Model also includes several new care delivery components and financial risk options for organizations with prior experience managing populations of patients.

As part of the Next Generation ACO Model, provider organizations can assume higher levels of financial risk and reward and are encouraged to implement new care delivery models. For example, CMS will pay physicians to provide care by phone or on-line instead of paying only for face-to-face visits. These services, known as telehealth, will offer a convenient alternative to office visits for patients whose care needs can be better met from the comfort of their home.

Partners, one of the first Pioneer ACOs  in the country, has five years experience managing populations of patients in an ACO, including $31.5 million in cost savings. With an overall quality score of 96%, Partners is among the best ACOs in the nation for delivering high-quality care to patients.

Partners, one of the first Pioneer ACOs in the country, has five years experience managing populations of patients in an ACO, including $31.5 million in cost savings. With an overall quality score of 96%, Partners is among the best ACOs in the nation for delivering high-quality care to patients.

“We’re excited to participate in the Next Generation ACO Model,” said Tim Ferris, Senior Vice President of Population Health Management at Partners HealthCare. “The Next Generation ACO Model will allow us to build upon our work as a Pioneer ACO and our existing population health programs to continue to improve the health of our Medicare patients. The Next Generation ACO Model offers new opportunities to primary care physicians and specialists to work together to improve the quality of care we provide to our Medicare patients.”

In addition, Partners’ TeleHealth program, launched in 2011 at Massachusetts General Hospital, will be easily incorporated and leveraged within the Next Generation ACO Model. Over the past several years, the TeleHealth program has been slowly expanding across the Partners network with over 20,000 virtual visits conducted, including video-based visits and on-line questionnaires known as eVisits.

“The Next Generation ACO Model will allow us to expand these services to more patients and quicken the pace of our implementation across the network,” said Gregg Meyer, MD, Chief Clinical Officer at Partners HealthCare. “We look forward to this new opportunity to provide the most convenient and high-quality care to our Medicare patients.”

Partners became a Next Generation ACO on January 1, 2017.  For more information on Partners’ efforts, click here.