Ongoing work at Baylor Scott & White to stabilize rising health care costs continues to serve as a model “of the kinds of changes to health care that we need to be successful,” The Dallas Morning News writes in an editorial today.
The piece specifically highlights the recent announcement that the system’s Accountable Care Organization, the Baylor Scott & White Quality Alliance, was selected to a Medicare national Shared Savings Program. That means that more than 60,000 Medicare patients who are already choosing to see doctors within the BSWQA network will be part of a program that targets the highest-risk patients for enhanced care.
Those patients will be assigned care coordinators, nurses who will provide extra services and resources. Those nurses will call the patients regularly to make sure they understand their diagnoses, what medications they should be taking and which specialists they need to see.
“People who are unable to manage their own health care, for any number of reasons, end up raising the price for all of us,” said today’s editorial. “Emergency rooms and ambulances become the doctor’s office at enormous cost.”
It’s a model that in serving the health care system’s employees has already saved $14 million, or 7 percent of total health care costs, as The News noted in another editorial endorsing the BSWQA last year.
For Carl Couch, MD, President of the BSWQA, this is simply the next step in a broader mission.
“We see our organization on the tip of the spear for population health management for Baylor Scott & White Health,” Dr. Couch said. “Our goal is to take care of increasingly large populations at high quality and the best cost.”
The move is not without risk.
“If, in its third year in the program, Baylor spends more than Medicare budgets for its pool of patients, the hospital must pay the difference to the taxpayer,” today’s editorial notes.
The BSWQA is one of 405 ACOs participating in Medicare’s Shared Savings Program as of January 1. Beneficiaries who see health care providers in ACOs have the freedom to choose doctors inside or outside of the ACO.
ACOs share with Medicare savings generated from lowering the growth in health care costs when they meet more than 30 measures for high quality care.