Mike James, the CEO of 400-physician Genesys PHO in Flint, Mich., has some words of wisdom for organizations considering going down the ACO road.

In “Navigating the Road Ahead: Lessons from a Pioneer ACO,” published yesterday by HFM, James shares his experience as the leader of a group that’s been taking on full-risk contracts since 1994. (Genesys is the physician arm of Genesys Healthcare, an Ascension-owned integrated delivery network that is one of the original 32 CMS Pioneer ACOs).

James’ advice boils down to this:

  • Successful ACOs will invest physicians with decision power and focus on strengthening the physician-patient relationship, restoring patients’ trust in physicians, and allocating the right human resources to the effort.
  • Organizations that are considering an ACO strategy should evaluate the risk structures of their proposed contracts and their provider groups’ willingness to accept the contractual level of risk.

Genesys, which uses the Allscripts Electronic Health Record in its physician clinics and hospitals, is already having success with the Pioneer ACO model.  James told It Takes A Community that the PHO was 15-18 percent ahead of its target budget for the 18,000 Medicare patients in the ACO, as of the end of the first quarter.  Which is especially good news when you consider that January-March — flu season — is typically the time of year when patients visit their physician most.

As James writes: “Fundamentally improving health of the population is extremely difficult, but Genesys PHO’s early utilization data indicate that it is on the right path.”

If you’re considering joining or creating an ACO, are you comfortable with the risk you’ll be taking on?


About the author

Todd Stein is editor of It Takes A Community. A former journalist and freelance editor, Stein has worked as a business reporter for The Sacramento Bee and San Francisco Business Times, as producer of HIMSS Newsbreak, contributing editor to California Hospitals and senior writer for NurseWeek. His many articles on healthcare IT and other topics have appeared in dozens of national and regional publications including Healthcare Informatics, Healthcare IT News, Journal of AHIMA, Physicians Practice, The Los Times, San Francisco Magazine and VIA.


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