The ABCs of ACOs

Today, we have some very exciting news to share. We’re officially announcing that Providence and Swedish have been selected as a Boeing Preferred Partner in Western Washington.

A video interview with Joe Gifford, head of our Washington ACO
This is an important milestone because we believe it’s the beginning of a shift in health care. It marks one of the first times an employer has directly asked a health care delivery system to provide comprehensive care to its employees, rather than going through an insurer. It’s a model that allows the health system to talk directly to the employer to really understand the company’s needs and expectations around health care, and to design and deliver a product that meets those needs.

small joe and rod

We use a lot of terms like “population health management” and “accountable care organizations” (ACOs) to describe our strategy of working with employers. But what do those terms really mean? To help us cut through the jargon and alphabet soup, I interviewed Joe Gifford, M.D., chief executive of our ACO in Washington, and started with some basic questions, like what’s an ACO and how will the experience be different for patients.

The digitally enabled ACO  
I always enjoy talking to Joe. He’s one of the smartest guys I know, and he’s driven by a genuine passion to transform health care, not just for the commercially insured but also for the most vulnerable in our communities. He also has a great pulse on the employer community and is very tuned in to consumer expectations of health care. Today, people can get whatever they want online, from digital books to airline tickets. They want the same convenience from health care, like being able to Skype with their doctor from the comfort of home or even track blood pressure through a mobile app or wearable.

Joe and Aaron Martin, our senior VP of innovation and strategy who was behind the Kindle at Amazon before coming to Providence, have been working closely to create what we like to call the digitally enabled ACO. Joe talks about that in my interview with him. He also talks about how ACOs aren’t just for people who get insurance through their jobs. They also can help us serve the uninsured and the Medicaid population to make sure everyone has access to great care regardless of ability to pay.

What questions do you have?
I recognize we barely scratch the surface in the video, so if you have other questions for us, definitely let us know in the comments below so we can address some of them in future blogs.

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  1. Hi – I work for Providence IS (via Swedish affiliation). I have felt uneasy about joining such a big healthcare pond. I want to be excited about working towards new health care solutions instead of worrying that I may be just part of the problem. I’m happy to hear such forward and principled leadership, especially as it stays close to our core values. I do believe that only through “love and service” will humans be able to change our world for the benefit of all. I strongly believe in the benefits and value of market-based “economies” as long as we also realize their limitations.

    For ACO and other initiatives are we modeling our self after specific technologies (Telehealth, remote home monitoring, advanced clinical procedures, etc.) that are already working in other parts of the US or other countries? Can more be said about the ideas and areas being pursued in the quest of better, cheaper, more accessible and equitable healthcare? Thank you!