Private sector accountable care organization development: A qualitative study

Ann Scheck McAlearney, Brian Hilligoss, Paula H. Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To explore accountable care organizations (ACOs) as they develop in the private sector, including their motivation for development, perspectives from consumers regarding these emerging ACOs, and the critical success factors associated with ACO development. STUDY DESIGN: Comprehensive organizational case studies of 4 full-risk private sector ACOs that included in-person interviews with providers and administrators and focus groups with local consumers. METHODS: Sixty-eight key informant interviews conducted during site visits, supplemented by document collection and telephone interviews, and 5 focus groups were held with 52 consumers associated with the study ACOs. RESULTS: We found 3 main motivators for private sector ACO development: 1) opportunity to improve quality and efficiency, 2) potential to improve population health, and 3) belief that payment reform is inevitable. With respect to consumer perspectives, consumers were unaware they received care from an ACO. From the perspectives of ACO stakeholders, these ACOs noted that they prefer to focus on patients' relationships with providers and typically do not emphasize the ACO name or entity. Critical success factors for private sector ACO development included provider engagement, strategic buy-in, prior experience managing risk, IT infrastructure, and leadership, all meant to shift the culture to a focus on value instead of volume. CONCLUSIONS: These organizations perceived that pursuing an accountable care strategy allowed them to respond to policy changes anticipated to impact the way healthcare is delivered and reimbursed. Increased understanding of factors that have been important for more mature private sector ACOs may help other healthcare organizations as they strive to enhance value and advance in their ACO journeys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-158
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Managed Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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