News Feature | August 29, 2014

ACO Created To Manage Healthcare Costs

By Wendy Grafius, contributing writer

Manage healthcare Costs With ACO

New Illinois ACO aims to realign focus to value of service with emphasis on improving health outcomes.

Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH), based in Chicago, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBSIL) of Illinois have formed an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) to improve care levels while managing costs. The alliance is expected to improve outcomes for the health system’s patients.

NCH has almost 20,000 patients in the BCBSIL/NCH ACO, and more than 300 NCH primary care/specialty physicians are affiliated with the ACO, which began serving patients in July. Specific goals for the ACO include management of patient care for early identification of disease/illness, coordination between payers and providers to deliver affordable healthcare products, the use of advanced technology/support to facilitate informed decision making, and implementation of alternative payment arrangements.

 “As a leading provider of healthcare services in the northwest suburbs, NCH is always looking at ways to improve the quality of care patients receive across the continuum while also controlling costs,” says Michael Hartke, executive VP and COO, Northwest Community Healthcare. “Our goal is to deliver innovative, exceptional, and coordinated care while creating value for the communities and populations we serve. This partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois will help us deliver a better healthcare experience for our patients through increased quality, efficiency, and access.”

 “This is a paradigm shift in paying for medical services. The arrangement begins to move reimbursement away from fee-for-service to fee-for-value,” said William Patten, BCBSIL VP for network management. “In addition, the arrangement enables NCH to harness clinical data to help drive medical care decision making, enhance patient safety, and improve quality of care — all supporting the goals of better health and improved outcomes for our members.”

An integrated, patient-centered system of care, NCH has been serving residents of Chicago’s northwest suburbs since 1959. Its 496-bed acute care hospital is staffed by over 1,000 physicians who treat more than 20,000 inpatients every year. Northwest Community Hospital is a Primary Stroke Center, has Magnet designation for nursing excellence, earned the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval, and is a Leapfrog Group Top Hospital. The health system includes multiple locations for medical offices, outpatient imaging, occupational health services, and Immediate Care.

SOURCE: Northwest Community Healthcare