Medicare ACOs and spine surgery: 5 things to know


A new study published in The Spine Journal examines how Medicare ACOs affect spine surgery patients.

The study examined patients who underwent spine surgery, either as an ACO or non-ACO member, and compared results from the 2009-2011 timeframe to those collected in 2012-2014. Study authors found:

1. Nine percent of the ACO and non-ACO patients underwent surgery between 2009 and 2011. However, patients examined from 2012 to 2014 found 8 percent of the non-ACO participants underwent surgery.

2. The ACO group reported the same percentage of patients undergoing surgery from the 2009-2011 timeframe as the 2012-2014 timeframe.

3. Both groups reported similarly increased mortality risk over the study period. In the ACO group, the researchers found a significant increase in complications over the study period.

4. The readmission rates were the same for both groups between the first and second study periods.

5. The study authors concluded that ACOs didn't alter the spine care delivery or outcomes for patients with spinal fractures. "As ACOs continue to evolve, more emphasis should be placed on the incorporation of measures directly related to surgical and trauma care in the determinants of risk-based measurements," they concluded.


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