In an effort to improve the safety and quality of patient care
and make health care more affordable, U.S. health insurer
) has agreed to form an 'Accountable Care Organization' ("ACO")
with Hunterdon HealthCare Partners.
Aetna will provide Hunterdon HealthCare with its full suite of
health information technology - health information exchange
technology from Medicity and care management capabilities,
point-of-care clinical decision support services and the Active
CareTeam and reporting tools.
These services will assist Hunterdon's network of 225 affiliated
primary care physicians and specialists, and the affiliated
ambulatory surgery, radiology, and hospice facilities, to provide
seamless service to patients.
Both Aetna and Hunterdon will start serving members this summer.
This includes 2,200 members in the Hunterdon Healthcare employee
benefits plan, and approximately 5,700 fully insured Aetna members
living in Hunterdon, Mercer, Warren, Morris and Somerset
Counties. Hunterdon Healthcare will be paid on the basis of
its performance, which will be determined on the basis of certain
quality of care, efficiency and overall patient
An ACO is a collaboration of health care providers, who
voluntarily forge alliances to provide coordinated high quality
care to patients. An ACO is accountable for the quality, cost, and
overall care offered to members. By focusing on the needs of
patients and linking payments to outcomes, this model of care is
intended to improve the health of individuals and communities and
curb rising health care costs.
ACOs, or collaborative accountable care, is one of the several
ways by which President Obama has sought to improve the quality of
health for all Americans. It is viewed as a tool that would deliver
seamless, high quality care for the overall population.
The Health Care Reform called for such an arrangement in order
to curb the unnecessary expenses associated with a lack of
coordination between multiple physicians and other providers. Most
Americans with multiple chronic conditions receive care from
multiple physician, and often resulted in patients not getting the
appropriate quality of care they need. A large percentage of the
sick population ended up being victims of medical errors and faced
hospital readmissions within days of their discharge. Thus, ACOs
were formed to reduce the exorbitant amounts spent due to lack of
UnitedHealth Group Inc.
) are also aggressively forming ACOs. Going forward, we expect
acceleration in the formation of such patient-centered
Aetna currently retains a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a
short-term Hold rating. Considering its better-than-average
fundamentals, we are maintaining our long-term Outperform
recommendation on the shares.
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