"The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through." -- Sydney J. Harris

New Medicare Data Shows Significant Variation in ACO Quality

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the first round of clinical quality data last week for accountable care organizations (ACOs), which showed wide variation between networks.

ACOs were created as part of the Affordable Care Act in an effort to improve health and reduce cost, and are networks of doctors and hospitals that are rewarded for working together to proactively address patients’ health concerns. They are eligible to keep some of the money they save on patient care if they meet certain quality measures. CMS collects data on 33 quality measures for evaluation and released the results of five of those measures – four related to diabetes care and another on blood pressure. The four diabetes care measures were developed and pioneered by MN Community Measurement and are being used nationally by CMS.

On average, 67% of ACO patients met the health targets set by Medicare. However, ACOs overall did not perform as well as the 66 large medical groups that are part of another Medicare quality program, according to Kaiser Health News. And there was significant variation amongst ACOs, with Minneapolis-based Allina Health achieving 88% patients meeting their target in one measure while other ACOs had results in the single digits.

To view the results, go to