Is there a place for Telehealth within ACOs?

The answer is yes.  Absolutely.  Telehealth,  as a mode of healthcare delivery, provides a means to more efficiently and effectively achieve ACO goals.  Read on to find out how.

First, what are ACOs and what are ACO goals?

ACO stands for Accountable Care Organization.  ACOs are groups of healthcare providers including doctors and hospitals that voluntarily join forces to provide coordinated care to Medicare patients.  The philosophy of ACOs is that coordinated care leads to better outcomes, because patients get the care they need without unnecessary duplication of services.  This is especially true for the chronically ill.

Successful ACOs lead to higher quality care and reduced health care spending within the Medicare program.

Telehealth,  as a mode of delivery provides a means for an ACO to more efficiency and effectively achieve their goals.  Here’s how:

  1. Telehealth technology has demonstrated costs savings.  By utilizing telehealth technology, an ACO can deliver care at a lower cost in many cases than traditional in-person office visits.
  2. Telehealth provides the possibility of greater access to care for those patients who are homebound for any of a variety of reasons or live in locations where travel to sites of care is time-consuming and difficult.  Including these patients expands the ACOs patient base.
  3. Telehealth promotes more timely access to care which can result in fewer emergency room visits and hospitalizations.  Preventative care is essential in reaching ACO goals.

Summary:  Telehealth promotes the goals of ACOs by lowering the costs of care while maintaining and improving the quality of care.  Through providing the means for greater access to care telehealth can increase the numbers of individuals who can participate in an ACO.  Read more on the benefits of telehealth for ACOs in the gpTRAC Resource Center here.

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