ACOs Will Cover 130 Million Patients by 2017

Over the next 2 years, the number of patients receiving care from an accountable care organization is expected to increase by more than 200%, according to a new report.

Over the next 2 years, the number of patients receiving care from an accountable care organization (ACO) is expected to increase by more than 200%, according to a new report.

Research from Parks Associates projects that recent business and regulatory changes in healthcare will drive up the number of people being treated by ACOs from 40 million in 2015 to more than 130 million patients by 2017.

“Reforms to the healthcare financial model tie compensation to care outcomes, and ACOs, built on the coordinated care model, align well with this new emphasis," Harry Wang, director of Health & Mobile Product Research at Parks Associates, said in a statement.

The number of patients may seem high because Parks Associates defines an ACO in the broadest sense and includes Medicare ACOs, private-sector patient-centered medical home practices, and healthcare providers accepting a pay-for-performance arrangement.

Although the pace of ACO adoption has been slower in the past than initially anticipated, it seems the industry expects that to change. At the end of 2013, a Premiere Inc. survey of senior executives revealed that hospital participating in ACOs was projected to double in 2014 alone.

At the time, 18% said their hospitals were currently participating in an ACO, and roughly half suggested their hospitals would participate in an ACO by the end of 2014. Overall, 76.5% of respondents said their hospital does or will participate in an ACO.

In 2014, ACOs are expected to generate nearly $1 billion in care management revenues, according to the Parks Associates projection.

“Health and technology providers should focus on providing end-to-end scalable solutions that offer financial benefits to purchasers while showing value to patients as individuals by enabling them to live their life to the fullest, thus encouraging strong consumer engagement,” Sandra Elliott, director of Consumer Technology and Service Development at Meridian Health, said in a statement.