Care Transformation Strategies and Approaches of Accountable Care Organizations

Valerie A. Lewis, Katherine I. Tierney, Taressa Fraze, Genevra F. Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although accountable care organizations (ACOs) proliferate, little is known about the activities and strategies ACOs are pursuing to meet goals of reducing costs and improving quality. We use semistructured interviews with executives at 16 ACOs to understand ACO approaches. We identified two overarching ACO approaches to changing clinical care: a practice-based transformation approach, working to overhaul care processes and teams from the inside out; and an overlay approach, where ACO activities were centralized and delivered external to physician practices. We additionally identified four methods ACOs were using to achieve their aims: using patient support roles; targeted clinics, events, programs, and interventions; clinical process standardization; and tracking and identifying patients on which to focus resources. We expect that ACOs using either of the major approaches can succeed under current ACO programs, but that as value-based payment programs mature, ACOs will need to undertake practice-based approaches to be successful in the long term.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-314
Number of pages24
JournalMedical Care Research and Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • care management
  • health care costs
  • health care quality
  • health care reform

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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