The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Accelerated Development Learning Program.  These free workshops will provide fundamentals on forming and operating ACOs.  The workshops are designed for executive teams of two to four individuals from existing or potential ACOs, including the chief executive, chief medical or clinical officer, and chief information technology officer.

The workshops will use the following definition of an ACO: a group of health care providers in a care delivery system who agree to accept joint responsibility for the medical care and management as well as the cost and quality outcomes of a designated population of patients.  The curriculum will focus on improving care delivery to increase quality and reduce costs, effectively using health information technology and data resources, and building capacity to assume and manage financial risk.

Specific CMS requirements for the Medicare Shared Savings Program ACO or the just announced Pioneer ACOs will not be the focus of the workshops.  While participants will be engaged in designing their own ACOs, CMS will not be endorsing or commenting on any of the implementation plans developed, and participation the workshops is neither a requirement nor intended to provide any advantage to applicants to CMS as ACOs.  The faculty announced for the workshops does include senior officials at CMS but also includes experts and practitioners in the field, including leaders of some of the CMS Physician Group Practice demonstration, upon which the ACO model has developed.

The first workshop will be held in Minneapolis, MN on June 20-22, 2011.  Teams will be accepted on a first-come, first serve basis until capacity is reached (there is no information on how many teams can participate).   A webcast of the plenary session and curriculum will be made available after the workshop.  Three additional workshops will be held in 2011.  Registration information and FAQs are available on the CMS Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovations website.

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