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Essentia Health joins accountable care pilot project

Essentia Health is one of 20 health care systems around the country to take part in a new pilot project for Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), which coordinates doctors, hospitals and other health professionals to make sure people get all the care they need, while eliminating waste and inefficiency.

Recently the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) announced the project, which examines the ability of ACOs to calculate and report quality results, and how well current metrics work.

Payments to ACOs reward quality and efficiency rather than the volume of services.

Participating ACOs will submit their results on a common set of quality measures. Information from the pilot project will shape the evolution of ACO quality measures. That’s because NCQA accredits and certifies a wide range of healthcare organizations, including Essentia Health. Essentia Health is one of two health systems in the country to receive the highest level of ACO accreditation from NCQA.

Twenty organizations will work with NCQA to define a set of measures, submit results, generate benchmarks and identify measurement challenges.

The project offers participating ACOs a unique opportunity to compare their performance. Eligible organizations are groups of doctors, hospitals or other providers that are responsible for the cost and the quality of a defined population’s health care and that want to compare their results to other ACOs.

The study is funded by the Commonwealth Fund and has attracted a range of ACOs. Among the 20 organizations included are Children’s Mercy Hospital & Clinic, Crystal Run Healthcare Covenant Health Partners, Essentia Health, Heritage California ACO, Mount Auburn Cambridge Independent Practice Association and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

“We appreciate the opportunity to work collaboratively with other ACOs to determine national quality measures. It’s another way we can demonstrate the value that ACOs bring to our patients and our communities,” said John Smylie, chief operating officer of Essentia Health, based in Duluth, in a news release. The NCQA will release study results in a written report in fall 2014. Organizations interested in participating may email

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