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2016 ACO Summit Offers Insights, Direction for Future

2016 ACO Summit Offers Insights, Direction for Future
BY SUSAN HALLETT – Earlier this month, nearly 150 healthcare leaders from California came together in the Silicon Valley for a day of sharing insights, innovations and best practices in delivering enhanced coordinated care while controlling healthcare costs.

The fourth annual Blue Shield of California Accountable Care Organization Provider Summit brought together physicians, medical group leaders, hospital management executives and Blue Shield senior leaders to share and explore common goals and strategies to collaborate on delivering care that’s worthy of our family and friends.

“It’s an opportunity for us, in a single session, in a single day, to meet with senior representatives from Blue Shield and get to talk with them about what’s going on, learning what are their goals, and how can we connect with those goals,” said Duane Whittington, senior vice president and chief administrative officer of Accountable Care Services at Epic Management, L.P.

Blue Shield of California President and CEO Paul Markovich began the day highlighting how Blue Shield’s ACO collaborations have lowered the ACO annualized cost of healthcare trend compared to non-ACOs by nearly $400 million since 2010. He also discussed Blue Shield’s growth strategy and the importance of bringing the healthcare industry into the digital age.

The attendees also heard from a panel of brokers and consultants from Mercer, Aon Hewitt and Wells Fargo. The panel discussion, led by Diana Gibson Pace, Blue Shield’s vice president and general manager of Premier Accounts, covered a range of topics including:


  • the state of the marketplace and its impact on our evolving ACO model;

  • how to ensure Blue Shield’s ACO product continues to provide sustainable value to members;

  • what brokers want to see from our providers in order to create a strong member experience and improved outcomes; and

  • key elements brokers consider when recommending a health plan to their customers.


“Everything our ACOs deliver – from the way a member is greeted in the provider’s office to how their bill gets paid – creates the market’s perspective on our products and services,” Pace told the audience. “We need to understand the customer experience from every angle in order to offer value-based products and services.”

The afternoon session was shaped by sharing clinical-program best practices in key areas of care delivery including a new palliative care program collaboration between Hill Physicians and Blue Shield, AppleCare’s hospitalist program, and St. Joseph Hoag Health’s skilled nursing facility program. Blue Shield’s Salina Wong, director of Clinical Pharmacy Programs, moderated a panel of pharmacists who are part of our ACOs, to discuss issues of over-prescribing, over-utilization and medication pricing, and their impact on quality of care and affordability.

It was clear among the Summit attendees that we share a common goal and commitment to transforming the healthcare system. Together, we are continuing the innovative work and developing new ACO programs to help raise the quality of care for Californians while making care more affordable.

Susan Hallett is vice president of strategic partnerships and innovation at Blue Shield of California


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