Hey ACOs, what can you do for me?
I keep hearing that one day soon we’ll all be members of an Accountable Care Organization (ACO). These are big or biggish health care groups that include doctors, hospitals, labs, rehab and other things I need. The deal, as I understand it, is that I get everybody coordinating my care “under one roof”, but I’m not supposed to go outside that roof for care. I know, some ACOs let patients continue to have unlimited choice, but that doesn’t seem to be the model.
If I’m going to give up the option of going wherever I want, then what I get under that one roof better look pretty good. So, you ACOs out there, that are getting ready to sell me on your services, here’s what I’m looking for:
1) A primary care doc who responds pretty quickly to my calls, emails, texts or Skype (or has a fabulous nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant who gets right back to me). Someone who routinely asks how I’m feeling, not just whether my body is OK. Someone who makes eye contact and can explain what’s going on with words I understand.
2) A dentist who does the same (and who shares records with my doc.)
3) Evening and weekend office and lab hours.
4) An electronic medical record I can view at home and add to as needed. The record will show the prices of the tests or treatments my doctor recommends and the ones I receive.
5) A patient coach who will help me get a second opinion or find more information about my illness, set health improvement goals, and understand the costs of my care. Someone who will help me be an informed advocate for myself and my family.
6) An ombudsman with whom I can register problems or a complaint.
7) A great, easy-to-navigate website that includes my records and all the information my patient coach wants me to see: FAQs and videos or health explainer-type games as well as a place to chat online with patients who’ve been in a similar circumstance.
8) Cool incentives and rewards for staying healthy, exercising more, losing weight or quitting a bad habit.
10) Easy parking or valet service or a shuttle from the closest train station or golf carts that drop me at the front door (can we make going to the doctor more fun?)
11) Really nice front office staff who know my name and remember something about me and offer to help with the next step in my care and maybe even get me water or tea as I wait.
12) Basic tests in the same building as my primary care doc that don’t require more than a 30-minute wait.
13) Quality measures I can understand and evidence of improvement
1) One of those “10-minute massage” options in the waiting room (or just off to the side).
2) A next-day follow-up call to ask how my child is feeling and whether I have any on-going concerns.
3) A follow-up email with articles I might want to read, FAQs, an informational video and maybe even some medical trivia.
4)The option of making/changing appointments online.
5) Johnnie’s that make me feel good, not like a schlump. Maybe johnnie costumes for my kids and for adults?
6) Free nutrition, exercise or relaxation counseling.
7) Acupuncture in the same building.
8) A “patient’s share” of the money my ACO saves if we all do our best to stay healthy.
9) Transparent records – show me what you’re getting paid and how you are managing my health care dollars.
10) Free apps that help me stay healthy, spend less and laugh more.
Okay, what did I forget?
It may be a little early to sit back and wait for the sales calls (although hospitals are already pitching seniors on Medicare). But if the calls or letters do come, I’ll be ready to ship the reps my list and see who wins.