A unicorn — a fantastic creature that is vested with mythical powers. But no one has actually seen one.
A camel — a horse designed by a committee, one that already has its nose in the tent
With this background, you can begin to appreciate the difficulty of conducting an accurate census of ACO animals in the wilderness. Yet, this is exactly the task undertaken in the excellent Leavitt Partners report measuring ACO activity in the US.
As I will explain, the Leavitt report has the potential both to overestimate and underestimate ACO and accountable care-like activities. In my judgment, however, it’s far more likely to be understating just how much accountable care activity actually is going on.
Findings in the Leavitt Report
The Leavitt researchers “identified ACOs from news releases, media reports, trade groups, collaborations and interviews through the beginning of September 2011. Also included were entities that either self-identified as being an ACOs or specifically adopted the tenets of accountable care.”
The report counts 164 ACOs — 99 that are primarily sponsored by hospital systems, 38 by physician groups, and 27 by insurers.
Here’s how Leavitt summarized their results: