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Richmond Quality ACO Earns High Quality Marks, Saves Medicare Money

September 16, 2020

Richmond Quality ACO, affiliate of Richmond University Medical Center and Richmond Health Network, improved care for over 9,000 Medicare beneficiaries on Staten Island and saved Medicare over $7.2 million by meeting quality and cost goals in 2019, according to recently released performance data from the federal agency that administers Medicare.

The Richmond Quality ACO earned a quality score of 96% on performance measures ranging from preventive health checks, to use of computerized health records, to preventing avoidable hospitalizations, Medicare data showed. The $7,213,193 of gross savings to Medicare resulted in a shared savings payment of over $3.46 million to Richmond Quality ACO. The payment will be used to continue the ACO’s work of improving population health in the communities of Staten Island.

“When providers work together through an ACO to focus on patients and invest in care coordination, information technology, and other care improvements, they can both increase quality and reduce costs,” said president and chief executive officer, Daniel J. Messina, PhD, FACHE.  “ACOs like ours are measurably improving care and saving money while maintaining patient choice of Medicare providers.”

As an example, Richmond Quality ACO providers work to increase the number of Medicare beneficiaries taking advantage of annual wellness visits, including recommended screenings and preventive care. “Working within an ACO framework has enabled the providers to focus on the overall care of the patients while simultaneously improving the quality of the care they provide and ultimately having a positive impact on the entire population we serve,” Marianne LaBarbera, MD, and Chair of the Richmond Quality ACO Board, said. “The ACO also focuses on ensuring smooth patient transitions from the hospital to home, or a nursing home, if needed. All ACO providers receive detailed information about their performance on quality measures, and clinicians and providers share best practices to coordinate the care beneficiaries receive from different primary care and specialty providers to prevent health issues and repeat hospitalizations.”

“Richmond University Medical Center has been on a journey working to improve the population health of Staten Island,” president of the Richmond Health Network and chief administrative officer, Richard J. Salhany, MBA, FACHE, said.  “The performance of the Richmond Quality ACO, a hospital sponsored ACO, demonstrates that we are on the right path in terms of effectively focusing on improving quality healthcare for the community in a cost effective manner.”

A market-based solution to fragmented and costly care, accountable care organizations (ACOs) empower local physicians, hospitals and other providers to work together and take responsibility for improving quality, enhancing patient experience, and keeping care affordable. The Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) creates incentives for ACOs to invest in transformation of care by allowing them to share in savings they generate after meeting defined quality and cost goals.

In 2019, a total of 541 ACOs across the nation, caring for millions of beneficiaries, participated in the MSSP, generating a gross savings of $2.6 billion based on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services methodology for setting financial benchmarks.

“The Medicare ACO shared savings program is the largest value-based payment model in the country and a critical tool in moving the health system toward better value,” ACO operations director, Jasmin Eversley-Danso said.