Reflecting on NAACOS 2024 Spring Conference: ACOs and the Future of Value-Based Care

By Lauren Holloway, Director of Brand Advocacy

Our crew recently visited the NAACOS 2024 Spring Conference and noticed a stark contrast from our last visit. There was more of a willingness to adopt value-based care at the conference, and key themes emerged, highlighting both the progress that has been made since the first batch of MSSP ACOs started on April 1, 2012, and the challenges that lie ahead. Here are the key reflections we took away from NAACOS.

  • Data Interoperability & VBC Endurance will aid ACOs Future Success: To effectively serve patients, ensure equitable access to care, and manage costs while maintaining profitability, ACOs must prioritize platforms equipped with advanced data analytics capabilities. With increasing pressure to meet ACO goals, value-based care is the obvious choice for healthcare going forward, and more ACOs are welcoming it, meaning it's here to stay.
  • New Players & Veteran high-performing ACOs as the flag bearer: The presence of multiple newer or first-year ACOs indicated a growing interest and participation in the model and continued relevance and appeal amidst the evolving healthcare landscape. NAACOS provided a platform for veteran ACOs to mingle with new entrants and guide them through their journey, sharing best practices and pitfalls to avoid. Many of these veteran ACOs have consistently achieved high performance, reporting savings, and high quality scores for consecutive years, which can offer valuable guidance to new ACOs creating their path to success.
  • Quality Reporting Challenges: ACO Quality Reporting remains challenging as healthcare organizations navigate evolving metrics, reporting requirements, and shifting regulatory landscapes. The complexity arises from balancing adherence to quality standards with the practical realities of data collection, analysis, and reporting while striving to maintain operational efficiency and focus on patient care.
  • Need to Consolidate: While the new programs and APM tracks from CMS in the last 2 years are commendable in intent and purpose, we believe it's better to consolidate within the existing programs rather than announce new contracts and programs. This will help the ACO community, especially the low-revenue ACOs, with the learning curve and make it easier for them to operate and succeed.
  • Quintuple AIM as the collective north star: In all the operating challenges and opportunities, we believe the Quintuple AIM should be the ultimate mission for all ACOs as we march towards CMS's utopian vision to have every Medicare beneficiary in an ACO by 2030. To achieve the Quintuple Aim, we must embrace several principles: data equity, cultural relevancy, provider networks and social health networks, health equity and care quality, and continuous improvement and collaboration. Read the article our Chief Platform Officer, Jessica Robinson, wrote for Health Data Management on "Why the Quintuple Aim is the key to transforming healthcare" here.

As the NAACOS President and CEO Clif Gaus announces his upcoming retirement in the fall, we reflect on his remarkable dedication and unwavering leadership presented in the role. Under his watch, NAACOS has evolved into a premiere national organization singularly focused on advocating for and supporting Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). His commitment to advancing the ACO model and fostering collaboration within the healthcare ecosystem has been instrumental in shaping value-based care into what it is today. As he prepares to close this chapter in his journey, we extend our best wishes to Clif as he embarks on his next adventure.

The Spring Conference showcased the growth and vitality of ACOs and value-based care as a whole. We look forward to our continued work with ACOs and want to thank NAACOS for the work that they do for ACOs to further improve the landscape. We look forward to continued engagement and progress in the journey toward value-based care.

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