by Sam Hieb
Imagine my surprise when I noted the dateline on this NYT story— High Point. Readers of my previous JLF regional blog know that HP is not exactly my favorite city–I worked there for two years and never quite discovered the charm.
At any rate, NYT takes a look at Cornerstone Healthcare—I was familiar with them during my time in HP—and how Cornerstone was a model for the ‘accountable care organization’:
Cornerstone Health Care, a large physician group here, made a big bet a few years back: It would get paid based not on how many procedures its doctors performed, but on how effectively they treated their patients.
There’s a term for this: an accountable care organization. The idea is to make doctors more mindful of costs — Is that test really necessary? — while keeping people healthier and away from pricey hospital visits. In recent years, several hundred accountable care experiments have sprung up nationwide.
And by early 2015, Cornerstone’s bet looked like a winner.
Bottom line is while initially Cornerstone–as an independent practice—embraced the flexibility to test new business models within the healthcare industry, it’s a tough bid—kinda like “trying to change the tire while the car is going 60 miles an hour,” as Dr. Grace Terrell–who helped launch Cornerstone in in the mid-’90s–told the NYT.
Eventually Cornerstone was forced to sell to WakeForest Baptist Medical Center, although it still operates as an accountable care organization. But here’s the key point–the U.S. government–Medicare—“wholeheartedly embraced the idea”—with (outgoing) Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell “pledging that by 2018, half of traditional Medicare payments — tens of billions of dollars — would be based on models like Cornerstone’s.”
Stay tuned. As I’ve said before, there’s a new sheriff in town.