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Managing Patient Safety in an ACO

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Managing Patient Safety in an ACO

By Jock Hoffman, CRICO

Related to: Emergency Medicine, Primary Care, Nursing, Obstetrics, Other Specialties, Surgery

With the re-election of President Barack Obama, any uncertainty surrounding continuation of the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) experiment has dissipated. As these care models mature, patients, providers, and insurers will be on watch for what patient safety benefits and risks emerge. ACOs with an effective system for recognizing and remediating risks will be better positioned to capitalize on those benefits and mitigate the risks. To help, CRICO has developed an ACO Patient Safety resource center on its website.

By design, ACO providers will be incentivized to coordinate patient care across inpatient and outpatient settings with the goal of avoiding unnecessary duplication of services and preventing medical errors. Under the right design, ACOs will improve communication and coordination. While this should have a beneficial impact on the number of medical malpractice cases, it is too soon to tell—although not too soon to speculate. Knowing what to look for and where to look for credible answers, will help physicians practicing within an ACO be prepared to manage unforeseen hazards and address patients' concerns.

Patient trust and engagement remain imperative to managing patient expectations to provide cost effective care without compromising quality. Education will be necessary to ensure that patients are actively engaged in their care.

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November 8, 2012
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