AOA releases directory of accountable care organizations

May 11, 2015
Members have a new tool to identify ACOs nationwide.

Interest in learning more about accountable care organizations (ACOs) is a rapidly growing area of optometric practice management. AOA has a new tool to help you with your research.

On May 7, AOA's Third Party Center (TPC) released a national database of more than 700 private and public ACOs. The AOA Directory of Accountable Care Organizations is now available as an exclusive benefit for AOA members.

Opportunities abound for doctors of optometry to get involved with ACOs in their local area, says Stephen Montaquila, O.D., chair of TPC's Executive Committee.

The directory provides members with the information they need to take advantage of opportunities with ACO models. "On behalf of the Third Party Committee, we are excited to provide this new information to all members so that they have the most up-to-date and accurate information on ACOs in their local and regional market," Dr. Montaquila says.

ACOs consist of groups of health care providers who agree to work together to provide coordinated care to a group of patients. "The overall goal is to tie provider reimbursement to improving quality of care while reducing overall costs," Dr. Montaquila explains.

How to access the directory

Members interested in a specific ACO entity may click on its name to get the full picture of the ACO, including a description of the ACO, its location, key contact information and links to helpful resources.

The directory will be an addition to AOA's ACO Resource Toolkit, which is available to members and provides guidance on how to join an ACO network.

At a time when public and private plans have been investing in these types of value-based integrated care models, AOA is encouraging member doctors to use this list to identify active ACOs in their regions or markets. "It is important to remember that ACO participation decisions are taking place locally and that personal relationships are going to be necessary to gain inclusion," Dr. Montaquila advises.

Medicare in particular has been testing ACO models, and provides new opportunities for optometry to participate. AOA-backed changes in Medicare's 2015 physician fee schedule, for example, offer new incentives for certain Medicare ACOs to ensure patients with diabetes receive a comprehensive dilated eye exam from an eye doctor.

Where optometry is making an impact

Optometry is steadily gaining inroads in the ACO market in certain parts of the country.

AOA's research shows that doctors of optometry are actively involved in ACOs in at least nine states: California, Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin. For example, the Rhode Island Primary Care Physicians Corporation (RIPCPC) is the largest-known integrated care model of its kind among primary care providers and eye care professionals.

RIPCPC's model is currently in the process of coordinating doctors and getting protocols in place.

In other states such as Missouri, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania, optometry is working to become fully involved members in ACOs. This information is based on quarterly conference calls AOA Third Party Committee conducts with its state affiliates.

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