10 Things You Need to Know to Succeed and Be Happy in an ACO

Leigh Page

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July 28, 2015

In This Article

2. You'll Need to Be Attentive to Costs

Doctors have often turned a blind eye to cost, saying they didn't want money concerns to get in the way of providing high-quality care. But ACOs are forcing physicians to do both: focus on quality and on cost.

"The ACO is a big change, because for many physicians it's often the first time they have had to grapple with costs," Dr Sukienik says. In the old days, he says, doctors were sometimes simply irresponsible about spending money: "If a patient wanted an expensive test, the doctor might say, 'You've got Medicare anyway, and they'll cover it.'" So the test got ordered, whether it was prudent to order it or not.

Some doctors still believe that knowing the actual cost impairs their medical judgment. They'd rather just be concerned with the patient's health and not have to view every care decision through the cost lens, because then they might be tempted to cut corners.

But, in fact, cost influences choice of care, including the decision to seek care, say the medical directors we spoke with. In a recent Gallup poll,[3] 33% of Americans said they skipped treatment owing to cost, up from 19% in 2001. For such reasons as this, "physicians are getting more aware of the cost of care," Dr Sukienik says.

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