PODCAST: “Real ACOs Haven’t Been Tried Yet!”

What is an Accountable Care Organization?

DEFINITION: ACOs are groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers, who come together voluntarily to give coordinated high-quality care to their patients. The goal of coordinated care is to ensure that patients get the right care at the right time, while avoiding unnecessary duplication of services and preventing medical errors. When an ACO succeeds both in delivering high-quality care and spending health care dollars more wisely, the ACO will share in the savings.

Citation: https://www.r2library.com/Resource/Title/0826102549


QUESTION: What happens when you’re a healthcare policy wonk and the pilot study for your pet program has failed miserably? 

ANSWER: You declare “Success!” in the editorial pages of the New England Journal of Medicine and demand that the program become nationwide and mandatory. I kid you not.  This is exactly what happens.

Thankfully, Anish Koka is vigilant and explains the blatant obfuscations and manipulations that the central planners engage in to have their way.


And so, In this video, Anish and colleague Michel Accad, MD, will reveal the machinations, take the culprits to task, and discuss pertinent questions regarding health care organization: 

  • Does “capitation” reduce costs? 
  • Do employed physicians necessarily utilize fewer resources? 
  • What happens when a HMO and a traditional fee-for-service health system operate side-by-side in a community?
BMC and Accountable Care - Boston Medical Center


PODCAST: http://alertandoriented.com/real-acos-havent-been-tried-yet/

Your thoughts are appreciated.



PODCAST: Virtual Primary Care

Article of Dr. Marshall Chin in the NEJM

By Eric Bricker MD




Thank You



Agenda for Financial Healthcare Change

coinsQuality Guru John Wennberg MD Targets Health Economics

By Staff Reporters

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, and as reported by blogger Matthew Holt in December 2008, the Dartmouth Atlas team has offered an “Agenda for Change” which laid out some practical tactics – for reducing medical practice variation – leading  to more standardized care patterns and rational economic spending.

Link: http://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/controlling-variations-spending-critical-healthcare-reform

The Original Pioneer

Written by oft cited John Wennberg MD (the godfather of medical practice variation research), Shannon Brownlee [author of the seminal book “Overtreated”] and colleagues, the “Agenda” includes financial incentives for Medicare providers that would share savings resulting from better organizing patient care and improving outcomes and efficiencies especially for people managing chronic conditions.


Note: Efficiency here means the best outcomes and quality at the lowest cost and resource utilization; and we might add at the most appropriate venue, delivery vehicle and time.



Until now, experts have blamed the healthcare growth in spending on advances in medical technology, but Elliott Fisher MD, another one of the study’s authors, says that differences in financial growth rates across regions show that advancing technology is only part of the explanation.

IOW: Controlling financial variations in spending, like those clinical variations in medical care via EBM, is critical to any type of healthcare reform.

Be sure to download and read the 25 page report here.

Link: http://www.dartmouthatlas.org/topics/agenda_for_change.pdf


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Checklists: Homer Simpson’s Moment of Clarity on Medical Quality

Accountants do it – Attorneys do it – Why Not Docs?

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CPHQ, CMP™insurance-book2

Like the Nike slogan, hospitals should just do-it! Make checklists, that is! A new report by the Associated Press, on January 15, 2009, suggests simple checklists might improve medical quality and save hospitals $15 billion a year.  

NEJM Study

The study was led by Atul Gawande MD, now a Harvard surgeon and medical journalist, and just published in the New England Journal of Medicine [NEJM]. The 19-item checklist, used in the study, was far more detailed than what is required for most institutions. In summary, doctors who followed a checklist of steps cut death rates from surgery, almost in half, and complications by more than a third in a large study on how to avoid blatant operating room mistakes.

The Checklist

The 19 point surgical checklist was developed by the World Health Organization [WHO] and includes common sense, and inexpensive, measures like these two:

  • Prior to the patient being given anesthesia, make sure relevant anatomy is marked, and everyone knows if the patient has an allergy.
  • After surgery, check that all the needles, sponges and instruments are accounted for.
  • Before the checklist was introduced, 1.5 percent of patients in a comparison group died within 30 days of surgery at eight hospitals. Afterward, the rate dropped to 0.8 percent — a 47 percent decrease. Duh; as Homer Simpson might say! Not exactly rocket science; is it?

Skeptics Exist

However, Dr. Peter Pronovost – a Johns Hopkins University researcher in my hometown of Baltimore – led a highly influential checklist study a few years back on cutting infection rates from various intravenous tubes. He was a skeptic of this study because the researchers collected their own data and acknowledged the possibility that results were partly skewed because folks perform better when observed.

A Next-Gen Quality Proponent

I have been a fan of Atul since his medical school and surgical training days as a resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. I even cited him as a precocious young up-start in the preface of my book, Insurance and Risk Management Strategies for Physicians and Advisors. His own works, of course, are best-sellers: Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science, and Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance. In fact, I often posit that he is a leading example of next-gen quality gurus, following in the foot-steps of Robert Wachter MD before him, and John E. Wennberg MD, MPH of the Dartmouth Atlas, before Bob.

My Experiences

Yet, far too many medical quality issues are being blindly addressed with powerful information technology systems. But, do we really need RFID tags to ensure proper side surgery, or bar codes bracelets for newborns? For example, while a medical student from Temple University back in the late seventies, I was observing surgery during an orthopedic rotation and noted the wrong extremity had been prepped and draped, awaiting the surgeons’ incision. Luckily, my big mouth was an advantage at the time. Decades later, at birth, I helped deliver my own daughter and immediately splashed a (far-too-large) swatch of gentian-violet on her left heel as an identifier; cheap … effective … simple. It did horrify the youngish nursing staff, but not so the more mature PICU staff. These, and related issues, might be alleviated with some managerial common sense; along with a dose of mindset change.


With the Obama administration about to spend massive amounts of money on eHRs and other sophisticated – but largely unproven and non inter-operable HIT systems – medical quality improvement measures; perhaps it’s time to take a breath, think and KISS! 

Most medical practices, clinics and hospitals ought not [should not] operate at full capacity, and maybe the best patient care is driven by demand (needs) – and not the supply driven (wants) of administrators, doctors, stockholders and private [physician owned] hospitals and/or other stakeholders. Still, financial advisors do-it, automobile mechanics do-it; so why don’t docs and hospitals do it… the checklist-thing?


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