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NJ ACO: A Sheep in PHYCORE Clothing

I am on an email list of Bill DeMarco’s, a reputable industry insider who has written and consulted extensively in the physician group and medical management space. He recently sent me a note about several physician aggregation events in New Jersey.

For some reason it struck a nerve with me . . . which led me to fire off the response below:

Bill,

I thought we already saw this movie?

My question for you . . . besides banding together in some megagroup – what are these physicians doing to actual change the delivery of medicine? ACO is just the latest buzzword excuse to aggregate physicians under a new moniker and a supposed new model.

I am highly suspect that these physicians are doing anything to change the relationship with their patients, to use enabling technology to create team based care, or actually be accountable for the outcomes they produce. What systems are they using to tie themselves together? What financial alignment do they have? What measures are they using to demonstrate superior outcomes? What about the patient experience – 7 minute visits that push pills as the “treatment” won’t get it done in the future.

I think your closing statement, “Representatives from Summit and Optimus were unavailable for comment” says it all.

Am I seeing this the wrong way? Is there anything new about this model this time around? Am I getting old enough to see these things cycle through?

PS – and no, I don’t mean a wolf. The sheep get nervous and band together waiting to get pounced on by wolves.

Scott Shreeve, MD, is a consultant, speaker and writer whose professional interest is the convergence of medicine, technology, and business. He blogs at Crossover Health.

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Before we even know what an ACO really is, it’s very clear that its primary purpose is turf protection.