ACO and Patient-Centered Medical Homes

How One Organization Is Diving Into Both Models

Manhasset, N.Y.-based Beacon Health Partners, an independent physician association made up of 90 independent physician practices throughout New York, began moving toward forming an ACO in 2010, shortly after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act first passed. The IPA was officially added as a Medicare Shared Savings accountable care organization in July of this year. This month, Beacon took another step to offer patients the most coordinated, dedicated care possible — it began the process to turn 60 of its independent physician offices into patient-centered medical homes. 

Jacqueline Delmont, MD, is Beacon Health Partners' medical director and is leading the organization's charge toward PCMHs. She says that PCMHs work very well with and under an ACO model. "A patient-centered medical home tries to achieve at the physician practice level the same goals that an ACO is pursuing as an organization," she says. "Even if an organization isn't seeking certification [as a PCMH], the principles of patient-centered medical homes need to be adopted in order for the  ACO model to be successful, increasing patient access and satisfaction, improving the quality of care delivered and decreasing healthcare costs."

"We see becoming an ACO as an opportunity to become a patient-centered organization," says Simon Prince, MD, CEO of Beacon Health Partners. "Building toward getting our individual practices certified as patient-centered medical homes is an important early step towards a broader initiative."

In order to become certified PCMHs, physician practices must prove that they meet certain standards laid out by certifying bodies, such as the National Committee for Quality Assurance. For example, practices must demonstrate that they have after-hours patient access and have linguistically appropriate services for its community. Those are just two examples of many standards that must be met in order to become a certified PCMH.

"The number [of physician practices] is ambitious," Dr. Delmont says. "We recognize the difficulty, but we have a team to facilitate the process to providers," she explains. 

Dr. Delmont says that once the transformation process and appropriate changes in workflow occur in the physician practices, they will be able submit the application for NCQA recognition.

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