Monthly roundup of industry news, trends and information that will have a direct impact on the business of health care.

Value-based Care

ACOs were headline makers in May. And the message is clear: if you're not in one, you will be. If you are in one, you'll be working harder to reduce your operating costs if you want to experience the joys of ACO ownership. Leavitt Partners says 23.5 million people now get their health care through an ACO, and it projects that number will reach 70 million by 2020.

ACOs and Health IT SpendingEven doctors are warming to ACOs. Medscape recently surveyed nearly 20,000 physicians, and 30 percent said they participated in an ACO last year, and another 7 percent expect to join one this year.

Oliver Wyman, which also keeps books on ACOs, says the best ACOs can reduce the cost of care by up to 40 percent and still provide great clinical care and a great patient experience. This study of the performance of the 32 original Medicare Pioneer ACOs that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine shows how it's done. They reduced anticipated Medicare spending in their first year of operation by $118 million by spending less on hospital care and post-acute care and by substituting lower-priced outpatient office visits for higher-priced hospital outpatient department visits. More fuel for the site-neutral crowd.

Business Innovation

Speaking of lower-priced alternatives, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a report on tapping the potential of retail clinics in delivering primary care. The Value Proposition of Retail Clinics says the number of retail health clinics top 1,800 now, conducting more than 10 million visits with patients each year. But that's still just about 2 percent of the primary care visits annually in the U.S., the report notes. That's opportunity knocking.

Technology Integration

Some doors, though, should stay closed. Like the electronic door that safeguards protected health information, or PHI. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association analyzed PHI breaches reported to HHS from 2010 through 2013. Breaches totaled 949, with 29.1 million patient records affected. Nearly a third involved portable electronic devices like smart phone, tablets and laptops. The study predicted an increase in the number and size of breaches, and providers and payers likely will need to invest more to protect their business currency – patient data.

HIMSS released the results of three surveys that collectively provide a business plan for those developing and selling health IT systems and providers buying and using health IT systems:

Engaged Consumer

CMS unveiled its five-star rating system for hospitals as part of its Hospital Compare program. The agency awards stars based on how well a hospital performs on 12 HCAHPS measures of patient satisfaction. How well a hospital performs on the measures also counts toward 30 percent of its Medicare reimbursement under the program's value-based purchasing initiative.

Reputation and revenue are two strong motivators to improve the patient experience with health IT being a crucial component in that business imperative.

What health care news, trends and information over the past month do you think will have the biggest impact on how you run your health care business? Leave a comment below.

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