In a commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Don Berwick describes CMS’s proposed rule for the Medicare shared savings accountable care organizations (ACOs) authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  The commentary was published online the same day the proposed rule was publicly released.

Dr. Berwick continues to use his “triple aim” as the goals for health care delivery reform: “better care for individuals, better health for populations, and slower growth in costs through improvements in care”.  He also continues to be a strong advocate for patient-centeredness:

“A critical foundation of the proposed rule is its unwavering focus on patients. We envision that successful ACOs will honor individual preferences and will engage patients in shared decision making about diagnostic and therapeutic options. Information management – making sure patients and all health care providers have the right informa- tion at the point of care – will be a core competency of ACOs. Held to rigorous quality standards, ACOs will be expected to be proactive in their orientation and to regularly reach out to patients to help them meet their needs for preventive and chronic health care.”

This publication continues a trend under the Obama Administration of using highly-respected, peer-reviewed medical journals to communicate to physicians about regulatory and policy developments.  Dr. David Blumenthal, the director of the Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, has also used medical journals to communicate about regulatory developments from his office.   The ability of such federal officials to coordinate the timing of such publications with the release of the regulations through often bureaucratic and political processes is a testament to their standing in the medical community as well as their effectiveness as appointed federal officials.

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