Engaging Physicians in ACO Development and Operations

This post is the third of an 11-part series that proposes structures and actions that characterize successful accountable care organizations.  Click here to download A Model for Value-Based Provider/Payer Partnerships white paper that covers the subject more in-depth.

Physician engagement is essential to actually realizing the savings planned for in an ACO development plan. While organizations can contract to get better unit cost pricing, taking on risk is a useless effort until care delivery and utilization patterns change. To engage physicians, consider the following practices:

  1. Engage physicians early to listen to concerns—Engaging physicians early in the move toward accountable care to listen to their issues and barriers will help the ACO organization address the challenges proactively.Cynthia Kilroy
  2. Identify physician champions—Physicians that can act as trusted change leaders need to be identified early and selected carefully. Physician leaders should be involved in every aspect of clinical transformation and ultimately champion the transformation to the larger provider community.
  3. Support transparency and peer discussions—The design and review of physician reporting, practice variation and care redesign must be driven by practicing physicians in the ACO with support from health plan medical directors. Physician-to-physician feedback is key to effecting long-term change in practice patterns.
  4. Involve physicians in monitoring cost savings—Provide physicians with information on opportunities for savings and the positive impact to their revenues and outcomes.

The next post in our series discusses the virtues of contracting for upside and downside risk.


Cynthia Kilroy, Sr. Vice President, Provider Strategic Initiatives, Optum

4 thoughts on “Engaging Physicians in ACO Development and Operations

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