Unfortunately for many of those shaping policy in Washington, covering healthcare news or even receiving care, the concept of accountable care is a confusing one. To alleviate confusion and create a common understanding of how patients and the nation can benefit from accountable care, the Council of Accountable Physician Practices (CAPP) recently launched an ACO public education and advocacy initiative – “5RealAnswers” – co-sponsored by the American Medical Group Association (AMGA), the California Association of Physician Groups, and many of the CAPP affiliated medical groups.

The site’s genesis actually came in 2008 when CAPP began to explore the public’s perception of healthcare delivery and “what ideas most resonated with them (or didn’t),” CAPP says. Through a number of focus groups conducted by CAPP, some themes began to emerge: patients want easy access to a physician of their choice; most patients relate to healthcare from their own personal experiences and have a hard time envisioning different kinds of care experiences; most can’t compare U.S. healthcare to other industrialized nations; and the language that most healthcare and policy organizations use is confusing. CAPP then presented more focus groups with scenarios that compared what it defined as accountable care against more fragmented elements of care. “The resulting information from that research gave us the language and tools we needed to develop an education initiative that we hope will help move the country toward a common vision of quality coordinated care,” CAPP says.

5RealAnswers was born. The site is actually three sites: AccountableCareChoices.org (for consumers), AccountableCareFacts.org (for the media) and AccountableCareStories.org (for policymakers). Each site includes the five key attributes of accountable care, but focuses on delivering the content in unique ways. For instance, the consumer site features an interactive tool for assessing a patient’s lifestyle to illustrate how accountable care can benefit that individual, and a series of five questions to ask about the care a patient receives and the experience the patient has with their doctor. The site also provides consumers with statistics that show how the United States compares to other industrialized nations.

The policymaker site features an ACO information and research packet, a search engine that allows researchers to find case studies on accountable care programs and initiatives, and answers to top ACO policy questions (which will be updated regularly, according to CAPP). The media site combines aspects of both the consumer and policymaker sites, says CAPP. The objective is to educate journalists on the benefits of the model while providing answers to newsworthy policy questions.

Toyomi Igus, CAPP’s Communications Director, says CAPP’s initial outreach was to media and policymakers because they are the segments currently most interested in the evolution of the health care reform law and polices around ACOs.

“Those two stakeholder groups currently want to better understand what ACOs are, so they are downloading the research packet, searching case studies, and posing questions about the structure of ACOs. Consumers who have found the site are using the interactive tools – and have expressed interest in the accountable care model, but they are not yet actively engaged because ACOs are not yet top-of-mind in general public. Once ACOs start to get launched and marketed to the public, we believe we will get more questions and comments from consumers.”

Principles

Igus says the five principles are those that both physician groups and patients find to be of fundamental value and importance to achieve quality care. “We are seeking to simplify the complexities of our health care system and focus on a small set of principles that are easily understandable – and deemed valuable – by the consumer,” Igus says. “Of course, there are many other processes, attributes, policies and legal considerations that must be addressed to achieve a delivery system that is truly accountable for cost and value, but our objective with this campaign is to create a unified vision of how care should be delivered to the average patient in a world of accountability.” 

To read more about the principles in the latest issue of ACO Insights, visit www.acoinsights.com

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