ACO Summit Allows Students to Engage Health Leaders

DECEMBER 12, 2012 - A recent summit focusing on accountable care organizations (ACO) offered several Georgetown University students an opportunity to engage with physician leaders, policy analysts, and group practice executives.

The event, co-sponsored by the Department of Health Systems Administration and the Group Practice Forum of the Kinetix Group, took place Dec. 3-4, in Washington, D.C.

“This is exactly the type of opportunity we create for all of our students to best prepare them to be successful leaders during and after our program,” said Patricia Cloonan, PhD, the department’s chair.

Summit Focus

The summit served as a forum for health care executives to discuss challenges and opportunities that accompany the movement toward using ACOs as the model for organization, delivery, and reimbursement for care.

An ACO, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is a “group of health care providers who give coordinated care, chronic disease management, and thereby improve the quality of care patients get. The organization’s payment is tied to achieving health care quality goals and outcomes that result in cost savings.”

Topics covered at the event included changes in the policy environment; new approaches in care coordination and population management; health care IT tools; quality and performance metrics; risk stratification for high-cost users of care; change management; and new clinical, financial, and organizational models.

And featured speakers included representatives from existing and emerging ACOs, as well as the American Medical Group Association, Brookings Institute, and FaegreBD Consulting.

Student Participation

Georgetown students – including those in the Department of Health Systems Administration and the university’s student chapter of AcademyHealth – participated throughout all stages of the planning process for the summit and gained practical experience through their interactions with high-level executives.

“Our department’s mission is to educate the next generation of health systems administrators early in their careers to lead improvements in the delivery of quality health care and to advance the knowledge needed to make these improvements,” Cloonan said.

As follow-up to the summit, the AcademyHealth student chapter has been commissioned to write a white paper based on the proceedings that will serve as a resource to address key challenges, identify best practices, and provide a roadmap for group practice organizations and pioneer ACOs as the new reimbursement model is implemented.

'Great Networking'

Caitlin Koury (NHS’13), a health care management & policy major, said that her participation in the summit inspired her to become a subject-matter expert in the division of health care she chooses to pursue and also provided opportunities for practical application of theories she has learned during her studies at Georgetown.

“These are great networking events, as well as opportunities to understand classroom information in practice,” Koury said. “For me, the ACO summit was a nice capstone to much of the research I've performed in HCMP.”

By Suzanne Huszagh (NHS’14)