By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – United HealthCare and Lifespan, Rhode Island’s largest hospital network, have announced the creation of an accountable coordinated care organization, or ACCO, the first of its kind in New England.
The new organization is designed to enable doctors across the health care setting to communicate and collaborate about a patient’s care, so that they are providing the right care in the most appropriate setting, according to Dr. Timothy J. Babineau, president and CEO of Lifespan.
In turn, UnitedHealthcare will share its claims data and analytics capability to help provide primary care providers and physicians in the Lifespan hospital network to better understand and to identify best practices for overall patient wellness and disease management, according to Stephen J. Farrell, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual of New England.
The new ACCO will include Lifespan’s acute care hospitals – Rhode Island Hospital and its Hasbro Children’s Hospital, The Miriam Hospital and Newport Hospital – and its physicians who will provide coordinated care to about 21,000 people in Rhode Island who are enrolled in UnitedHealthcare’s employer-sponsored benefit plans, according to officials at Lifespan and UnitedHealthcare.
“We are committed to redesigning care through better analytics, through different partnerships with payers, through different relationships with our physicians, with the goal to improve care and lower costs,” Babineau told the Providence Business News. “Health care reform that is not tied to payment reform will go nowhere,” he continued.
The new ACCO with UnitedHealthcare will link payment reform to health care redesign, according to Babineau. The new configuration, he said, “hits the sweet spot.”
Farrell called the new ACCO a “ground-breaking” event for health care in Rhode Island. “We’re thrilled to be putting this together with Lifespan,” Farrell told Providence Business News. “This relationship supports the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s triple aim: better outcomes, better satisfaction and lower costs. By sharing our data analytics and information with Lifespan, it can result in these improvements.”
To participate in the ACCO, UnitedHealthcare health insurance plan participants who see primary care physicians in the Lifespan ACCO will not have to do anything differently, according to Farrell. Participating primary care doctors will receive monthly updates on their patients, enabling them to monitor all of the care the patient is receiving, according to Babineau. Data will be integrated at the point of care.
Neither Babineau nor Farrell was willing to share any potential financial goals and savings that new ACCO can achieve, saying it was still too early and that exact dollar amounts were still under discussion.
“The intention here is that we redesign payment so that it reflects [income] earned based on efficiencies, lower cost and better quality in health care,” Farrell said. “The lower cost turns into income generating opportunities between UnitedHealthcare and Lifespan.”
The end result is that improving quality and lowered costs will make its way down into medical trends and the cost of insurance premiums as well.”
Both Farrell and Babineau shied away from describing the ACCO as the creation of new kind of health information exchange. “It’s not a health information exchange as we currently think about it,” Farrell said.
“We’re going to learn new ways to aggregate data, trying to create new models of data sharing for health care,” Babineau added. “It’s an exchange of information between two entities in Rhode Island. The advantage that Lifespan brings to the table is our size and scale. We have been innovators in the marketplace, as has United.”