Study identifies 3 keys for building successful ACOs | Philly ACO helped lower hospital readmission rates | Care transition program tied to lower costs, utilization
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July 22, 2014
CV Quality SmartBrief
Transforming Health Care from the Inside Out

First Focus
Study identifies 3 keys for building successful ACOs
A study in the journal Academic Medicine suggests that building a successful accountable care organization at academic medical centers hinges on strong leadership, robust health IT systems and reliable care coordination. The findings were based on a study of the first 253 Medicare ACOs across the U.S., 20% of which were developed at academic medical centers. Health Data Management (7/21)
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Philly ACO helped lower hospital readmission rates
Independence Blue Cross confirmed that 90% of hospitals in Philadelphia that joined its accountable care organization have successfully reduced hospital readmission rates. Also, all of the ACO participants showed improvement in at least one hospital-acquired infection standard or were recognized by the Pennsylvania Department of Health for infection control. (7/15)
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Care transition program tied to lower costs, utilization
A coaching intervention designed to ease care transitions among Medicare patients was associated with avoided costs of $3,752 per patient, a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found. Patients in the intervention arm also had lower mean care costs overall and lower utilization of health care services in the six months after they left the hospital. (7/18)
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Other News
Practice & Hospital Management
Study shows patients like shared medical appointments
An analysis in Annals of Family Medicine found that patients who received care via shared medical appointments reported higher satisfaction overall than those who had usual care, but patients in the usual-care arm of the study indicated they were more satisfied with patient-doctor communication. The study authors said the approach might help practices improve patient access to timely care. Medscape (free registration) (7/18)
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Greater patient satisfaction seen with emotional intelligence training
Emotional intelligence training helped improve EI scores among physicians and was tied to better patient satisfaction, researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center found. The findings appear in JAMA Otolaryngology. (7/21)
E-Health Watch
Drug safety program mines medical records for adverse events
The federal government is spending $116 million on a project called Mini-Sentinel, which mines the medical billing records of some 180 million Americans to find adverse drug events. Some critics say billing data are not specific enough to reveal side effects. Another drug safety program initiated by Congress and funded by drugmakers is studying how to use large databases to study drug safety. National Public Radio/Shots blog (7/21)
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Group creates ACO accreditation program
The Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission has created an accreditation program for accountable care organizations that will evaluate their network infrastructure and exchange connectivity, technical performance, resource management, business processes, and other performance quality standards. A group in New Jersey and one in Washington, D.C., have been selected to undergo the beta accreditation process. Healthcare Informatics online (7/21)
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Spotlight on Innovation
Study: Lifesaving medtech saves money, too
Medical technology, including imaging tools, offsets the high cost of disease by some $23 billion annually, according to a Milken Institute report. Researchers evaluated medical technology for heart disease, colorectal cancer, diabetes and musculoskeletal disease, and they found that services including echocardiography resulted in cost savings and health benefits. (free registration) (7/18)
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Costs & Reimbursement
CBO lowers estimate for federal spending on health care by 2039
The Congressional Budget Office slightly lowered its projection for federal spending on health care in 25 years, from 8.1% of the nation's gross domestic product to 8%. The government is expected to spend more on Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program and Affordable Care Act insurance subsidies due to an aging population and increases in insurance coverage. Cost control provisions in the Affordable Care Act are expected to hold back spending. The Hill (7/15), Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model) (7/15)
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ACC News
Coronary Artery Calcium: Score? or No More?
The cover story in the latest issue of CardioSource WorldNews discusses coronary artery calcium scoring and its role in current practice. The article notes that "in short, no matter which way you slice it, most agree that CAC offers the best discrimination of all the second-tier assessment techniques available -- an opinion that is echoed in the recent guidelines." Other highlights from the issue include a straight talk column by Andrew Freeman, MD, FACC, about being more honest with patients about the true underlying causes of their disease, and encouraging conversations on the importance of eating well, living well, diet and exercise. Check out the full issue at
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NCDR Study Assesses Defibrillation Safety Margin of ICDs
Given that physicians who implant implantable cardioverter-defibrillators have an obligation to determine whether a selected lead configuration can terminate ventricular fibrillation, a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology developed a simple risk score to help predict an inadequate defibrillation safety margin for ICDs, and found an inadequate DSM to be "associated with an increased risk for in-hospital adverse events." The study analyzed implants from the ICD Registry between 2010 and 2012. Read more on
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Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."
-- John F. Kennedy,
35th U.S. president
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This news roundup is provided as a timely update to ACC members and partners interested in quality health care topics in the news media. Links to articles are provided for the convenience of the health care professionals who may find them of use in discussions with patients or colleagues. Opinions expressed in ACC Quality First SmartBrief are those of the identified authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of the American College of Cardiology. On occasion, media articles may include or imply incorrect information about the ACC and its policies, positions, or relationships. For clarification on ACC positions and policies, we refer you to
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