Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Building an Accountable Care Organization

A glance at the headlines shows how badly healthcare needs to become more efficient. Healthcare spending in the United States rose 5.7 percent in 2009, to $2.5 trillion. It now commands 17.3 percent of the gross domestic product, up from 16.2 percent in 2008. That's the fastest one-year increase since 1960.

Our healthcare system is galloping away from us. We spend more than $7,000 per person on medical care, much more than any other country we compete with in the global market. China, for example, spends $600 a year. How can we as a nation keep this up? The economic burden of our healthcare system is simply unsustainable.

Enter the Accountable Care Organization
Hospitals need to become more efficient and control costs. I believe this can be done through accountable care organizations. ACOs will coordinate all the care a patient receives, both inside and outside the hospital, in a certain region. For example, an ACO in my part of Wisconsin might serve 800,000 to 1 million people. The ACO would bring together hospitals, physicians and other providers into coordinated systems that can be more efficient and safer, too.

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