At first glance, Atrius Health looks like a great candidate to become an accountable care organization, the newly developed model of shared risk and savings being launched by Medicare. Atrius consists of five independent medical groups encompassing 80 physicians across 36 sites in the Boston area. It is fully deployed on an EHR, from Epic, which facilitates communications across specialties—one of the characteristics of an ACO. Moreover, the EHR has enabled Atrius to “function as one large contracting entity,” said Gene Lindsey, M.D., its CEO, who spoke at the World Congress Leadership Summit on ACOs this week in Vienna, Va. About half of the group’s 700,000 patients are treated under global payments arrangements, Lindsey noted.
But Atrius is in no hurry to sign up for the federal ACO program, which kicks off next January and is still awaiting final rules. Reason for the caution? The current ACO proposed regulations, all 498 pages of them, contain too many problematic areas for the practice to move ahead. The draft regulations, which will be released in final form later this year, contain too many quality measures that physicians would have to uphold, and worse, the metrics for how the measures would be calculated are unclear, Lindsey said. He was among a chorus of Summit participants who described the proposed regulations as unworkable.
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