Decision Making on Medical Innovations in a Changing Health Care Environment: Insights from Accountable Care Organizations and Payers on Personalized Medicine and Other Technologies

Value Health. 2017 Jan;20(1):40-46. doi: 10.1016/j.jval.2016.09.2402.


Background: New payment and care organization approaches, such as those of accountable care organizations (ACOs), are reshaping accountability and shifting risk, as well as decision making, from payers to providers, within the Triple Aim context of health reform. The Triple Aim calls for improving experience of care, improving health of populations, and reducing health care costs.

Objectives: To understand how the transition to the ACO model impacts decision making on adoption and use of innovative technologies in the era of accelerating scientific advancement of personalized medicine and other innovations.

Methods: We interviewed representatives from 10 private payers and 6 provider institutions involved in implementing the ACO model (i.e., ACOs) to understand changes, challenges, and facilitators of decision making on medical innovations, including personalized medicine. We used the framework approach of qualitative research for study design and thematic analysis.

Results: We found that representatives from the participating payer companies and ACOs perceive similar challenges to ACOs' decision making in terms of achieving a balance between the components of the Triple Aim-improving care experience, improving population health, and reducing costs. The challenges include the prevalence of cost over care quality considerations in ACOs' decisions and ACOs' insufficient analytical and technology assessment capacity to evaluate complex innovations such as personalized medicine. Decision-making facilitators included increased competition across ACOs and patients' interest in personalized medicine.

Conclusions: As new payment models evolve, payers, ACOs, and other stakeholders should address challenges and leverage opportunities to arm ACOs with robust, consistent, rigorous, and transparent approaches to decision making on medical innovations.

Keywords: accountable care organizations; coverage policy; decision making; personalized medicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Accountable Care Organizations / economics
  • Accountable Care Organizations / organization & administration*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Decision Making*
  • Humans
  • Insurance Carriers / economics*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Precision Medicine / economics
  • Precision Medicine / methods*
  • Technology Assessment, Biomedical / organization & administration
  • United States