Two weeks ago when HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius introduced the long awaited ACO (Accountable Care Organization) regulations, the only example she provided on how this could save a hospital money was in concert with outpatient wound care!
“As part of an Accountable Care Organization a hospital that follows up with a patient, [for example] to make sure she gets the right wound care, can share in the savings that comes when that patient has a successful recovery with no readmission.”
The bottom line is that outpatient programs, especially wound care centers, will play a vital part in the reduction of costs to the whole organization. If an outpatient wound center can reduce the length of stay for a patient with wounds, and most importantly, reduce readmission rates, it can earn revenue for a hospital in two ways: First, it can generate revenue based on the outpatient rates which will be unaffected according to the initial 400 page document, and second, by reducing the cost of patient care, the ACO hospital will also share in the savings.
The caveats include having a "Meaningful Use" Electronic Medical Record, measurable outcomes, and a strong patient satisfaction reporting system. If you have a WCA program, check, check, and check!
If you are not familiar with the ACO approach, Rich Daly and Jessica Zigmond did a great job of laying out a concise summary on modernhealthcare.com
Now more than ever is the time to consider your out-patient approach and how you can reduce costs. As the ACO mystery continues to unravel, we will do our best to share our thoughts and findings with you.