Variation in Risk-Standardized Acute Admission Rates Among Patients With Heart Failure in Accountable Care Organizations: Implications for Quality Measurement

Sarah Chuzi, Peter K. Lindenauer, Kamal Faridi, Aruna Priya, Penelope S. Pekow, Thomas D’aunno, Kathleen M. Mazor, Mihaela S. Stefan, Erica S. Spatz, Lauren Gilstrap, Rachel M. Werner, Tara Lagu

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BACKGROUND: Accountable care organizations (ACOs) aim to improve health care quality and reduce costs, including among patients with heart failure (HF). However, variation across ACOs in admission rates for patients with HF and associated factors are not well described. METHODS AND RESULTS: We identified Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries with HF who were assigned to a Medicare Shared Savings Program ACO in 2017 and survived ≥30 days into 2018. We calculated risk-standardized acute admission rates across ACOs, assigned ACOs to 1 of 3 performance categories, and examined associations between ACO characteristics and performance categories. Among 1 232 222 beneficiaries with HF, 283 795 (mean age, 81 years; 54% women; 86% White; 78% urban) were assigned to 1 of 467 Medicare Shared Savings Program ACOs. Across ACOs, the median risk-standardized acute admission rate was 87 admissions per 100 people, ranging from 61 (minimum) to 109 (maximum) admissions per 100 beneficiaries. Compared to the overall average, 13% of ACOs performed better on risk-standardized acute admission rates, 72% were no different, and 14% performed worse. Most ACOs with better performance had fewer Black beneficiaries and were not hospital affiliated. Most ACOs that performed worse than average were large, located in the Northeast, had a hospital affiliation, and had a lower proportion of primary care providers. CONCLUSIONS: Admissions are common among beneficiaries with HF in ACOs, and there is variation in risk-standardized acute admission rates across ACOs. ACO performance was associated with certain ACO characteristics. Future studies should attempt to elucidate the relationship between ACO structure and characteristics and admission risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere029758
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 4 2023


  • accountable care organizations
  • heart failure
  • heart failure admissions
  • heart failure quality
  • risk-standardized admission rates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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