Now that Obamacare is in full swing with millions of Americans signing up for health care coverage, there is another reform taking place in the health care field which few people know about.
Since the Affordable Care Act was signed 3 years ago, more than 370 innovative medical practices called “accountable care organizations” have sprung up all over the USA , with over 150 more planned.
Several of these organizations are located in Los Angeles and surrounding areas and they are doing something very unique in the health industry. At these centers, Medicare or private insurers reward doctors financially when their patients stay healthy. The doctors actually make money when their patients require fewer hospital stays, emergency room visits and surgeries. This is the opposite of what doctors have traditionally been paid to do. The more money the organization saves, the more money its participating providers share.
Just how exactly are they doing this? These organizations are using information technology to monitor the patients most at risk. Using patient records, they are looking for patients who are overdue for checkups and finding out which patients have not been filling their prescriptions. Then, using teams of doctors, health coaches, care coordinators and nurse practitioners, they work with the patients and encourage them to live healthier lives.
At one center in North Carolina, patients with a history of congestive heart failure get a daily phone call from a nurse asking them to step on a scale and report their weight (a good, early indicator of an impending emergency). Another provider in California offers Medicare patients free dance lessons, healthy cooking classes and other fun activities. A Buffalo clinic is building a gym and a teaching kitchen for its patients.
These organizations are setting the trend for the future – preventative health care. Now, having health insurance coverage isn’t just about help for medical emergencies anymore.