The ACO Realizing Equity, Access, and Community Health (ACO REACH) model provides healthcare providers with the tools they need to collaborate on improving the quality of care given to Medicare patients. This care coordination happens through accountable care organizations (ACOs).
Improvements in Quality Care
In line with value-based care, the ACO REACH model prioritizes health equity by bringing quality care to Medicare beneficiaries in underserved communities. Care coordination and higher quality care leads to higher patient satisfaction rates while reducing spend on resources used to treat chronic illnesses.
Identifying Health Disparities
Through the ACO REACH model, ACOs develop a plan for identifying health disparities in their community. With this data, they can implement measurable actions to address these health disparities amongst the community. Collaboration amongst ACO participants provides a strong line of communication that helps to reduce hospital spending by focusing on quality primary and preventative care. This can lead to fewer hospital visits for patients with chronic illness.
Part of identifying health disparities comes through social determinants of health (SDoH). These are non-medical factors in a person’s environment that impact health function and quality-of-life outcomes. Using tools to track SDoH allows ACOs to expand their understanding of social, behavioral, and economic factors that may influence patient health outcomes. This allows them to tailor preventative care towards addressing these factors in an underserved or rural population.
Increases in ACO Participation
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), there are about 13.7 million Medicare beneficiaries aligned with an accountable care organization in 2024. This means that ACOs now serve nearly half of Traditional Medicare beneficiaries. Also according to the same report from CMS, there are 122 ACOs in the ACO REACH model. This accounts for 173,004 health care providers. The increases in participation attest to the support for CMS’ initiative to help close racial and ethnic disparities identified amongst Medicare patients.
Transitioning to an ACO Model
Successful transitioning to an ACO requires transitioning to using new innovative tools and analytics data to help provide better quality care for patients. To be a successful new entrant to ACO, there are a few key points to focus on:
- Provider engagement
- Care management
- Health analytics
Healthcare providers joining an ACO should engage actively and with an understanding of how their care impacts overall performance metrics. Greater participation in the ACO REACH model can lead to higher healthcare savings and increased patient satisfaction rates. On the patient side, more patients would have access to higher quality care.