Want to dole out blame for the need for a healthcare overhaul? Try bad habits. But it’s not just in healthcare delivery. It goes deeper than that – down to the patients. Too many U.S. consumers have an unhealthy lifestyle and bad nutritional habits. In the coming years, they won’t just need a diagnosis from these new collaborations of doctors and providers – consumers need an intervention. So when payers and providers begin to work on ways to develop their own accountable care organization, they’d be wise to have consumer habits enter the conversation, says Patrick T. Buckley, MPA, President and CEO of PB Healthcare Business Solutions LLC.

“Ultimately, what are you going to do so that people change health behavior?” he says. ACO Insights recently spoke with Buckley on ways that accountable care organizations can address the U.S. consumer’s unhealthy habits. He offered topics that organizations should be thinking about when developing ACOs, including:

 

Incentives

Incentives in the form of shared savings are in the reimbursement discussions for providers involved in ACOs. But what about consumers? Employers and insurers have tried small doses of reducing premiums for consumers willing to curb their alcohol consumption or cigarette addiction. It’s been proven [as an incentive] with cigarette smoking and alcohol, Buckley says. But for a healthy overall lifestyle, what’s going to make people start buying health food? “Groceries are expensive,” he says. “Organic food is more expensive than the cheap TV dinner stuff. Yet I don’t see anything on how ACOs are going to engage that part of it – the nutrition and dietary part. It can’t just be people continuing to eat their pizzas. Somehow there’s got to be a voucher, or some other form of incentive, so people are going to do everything they can do to lose weight, get fit and stay that way.”

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