What is accountable care organization (ACO)? - Definition from WhatIs.com

Definition

accountable care organization (ACO)

Part of the Healthcare IT glossary:

An accountable care organization (ACO) is an association of hospitals, providers and insurers in which all parties assume accountability for the quality of patient care, and how money is spent as it pertains to a population. The ACO oversees a pay-for-performance model that measures patient care and cost control on standard criteria. Healthcare providers according to how well they meet the criteria. Physicians who fail to meet the standards for cost control and patient care receive lower payments from Medicare.

The ACO model also influences how patients are treated throughout the care process. All appointments and tests would be completed under the same health care umbrella, provided by members of that particular ACO. The idea is that if a primary care physician is treating a patient, and additional insight is needed from a specialist, the physician would then refer the patient to that specialist within the ACO. A patient seeking additional care outside the umbrella would likely cost more.

The ACO model is described in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The act, informally known as "Obamacare," was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. 

This was last updated in August 2012
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms

Definitions

Glossaries

  • Healthcare IT

    - Terms related to healthcare IT, including definitions about healthcare information and management systems and words and phrases about electronic health records, meaningful use, government regulatio...

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question About accountable care organization (ACO)Powered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Tech TalkComment

Share
Comments

    Results

    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.