With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, accountable care organizations (ACOs) represent a new paradigm in healthcare payment reform. Designed to limit growth in spending while preserving quality, these organizations aim to incant physicians to lower costs by returning a portion of the savings realized by cost-effective, evidence-based care back to the ACO. In this review, first, we will explore the development of ACOs within the context of prior attempts to control Medicare spending, such as the sustainable growth rate and managed care organizations. Second, we describe the evolution of ACOs, the demonstration projects that established their feasibility, and their current organizational structure. Third, because quality metrics are central to the use and implementation of ACOs, we describe current efforts to design, collect, and interpret quality metrics in vascular surgery. And fourth, because a "seat at the table" will be an important key to success for vascular surgeons in these efforts, we discuss how vascular surgeons can participate and lead efforts within ACOs.
Copyright © 2012 Society for Vascular Surgery. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.