By John Smith
Accountable Care Organizations will be part of the new healthcare reform. They hope to encourage a healthcare system that pays doctors and hospitals to keep you well, not just treat you when you’re sick. They also would give doctors a financial incentive to limit unnecessary tests and prod patients to exercise more and eat better. And, included in healthcare reform, “gains sharing” will now be allowed from hospitals to physicians from savings due to operating efficiencies, quality improvement, reduced re-admissions, lower infection rates, etc. It will be a system where hospitals would benefit from keeping you OUT of the hospital.
This is the goal behind ACOs, one of the latest healthcare delivery models that are poised to get a test ride in the national health overhaul legislation. Each ACO would be operated by a group of doctors and hospitals that would be paid by Medicare to care for all the health needs of at least 5,000 elderly or disabled people.
Physicians can now participate in the “gains” made by reduced costs. The bulk of these gains will come from Medicare and Medicaid, but the federal government is thinking about encouraging ACOs to use all payer arrangements in order to maximize the impact. Thus, private payers will be able to join in. Gains sharing will be nationwide and will be in effect in January 2012. In this new environment, hospitals need to be able to show accountable care; in order to do so, they will need their suppliers to be on-board with this idea, offering tools that allow them to achieve this goal.
This new environment offers a communications opportunity for medical device companies to educate their customers that they are aware of this issue and are taking steps to address it and help them achieve this goal. They need to be able to address accountable care and show their customers that they have the offerings and solutions to help them adhere to this new mandate. Accountable care will be one of the issues that enable medical device companies to differentiate themselves by their ability to provide the tools that physicians and hospitals need to fulfill this requirement.
Now is the time for individual device companies to explore this new landscape as it begins to unfold and ensure that their communications programs are in gear to take advantage of this forming opportunity.
This is the first in a series of blogs that will help device companies get on a path to make them ACO-ready. Subsequent blogs will address:
- Tailoring positioning and messaging to ensure that customers can rely on device companies to help them achieve this mandate;
- Ensuring that company websites reflect an awareness and sensitivity to the ACO environment;
- Making sure that company materials address the new mandate and describe specific ways that the company can help the customer get ready for ACO;
- Ensuring that your public relations activities educate customer about the new ACO environment;
- And making certain that your social media communications includes material on ACOs.
John Smith, a Vice President at Dodge Communications, has more than 20 years healthcare communications and marketing experience with life science, medical technology and healthcare companies. He has developed and overseen program planning, communications and marketing strategy, media relations, positioning and Medicaid reimbursement programs for therapeutic, biotechnology and medical technology clients while serving as senior vice president and healthcare practice leader in the Boston offices of Fleishman-Hillard, Manning Selvage & Lee and Brodeur Worldwide. John can be contacted at email@example.com.