Accountable Care Organizations have given little attention to surgery in the early years of the Medicare program, choosing to focus instead on managing chronic conditions and reducing hospital readmissions.
That’s according to a case study and survey published this week in the journal Health Affairs. The authors conducted case studies at four ACOs in 2012 and sent a survey to all 59 Medicare ACOs in the first year of the program, with 30 responding.
“I’m a surgeon, so I was really curious as this model probably continues to gain steam, what’s this going to mean for me?” said lead author James M. Dupree, a urologist at Baylor College of Medicine. “We found that thus far, very little of the strategic attention seemed to be devoted to surgical care and the integration of surgeons into the ACO.”
That may be a missed opportunity. Surgery represents 50 percent of hospital expenditures, and “thus, even if ACOs are able to achieve their goals in chronic disease management, overlooking the role and cost of surgical care may negate those savings,” the authors write.