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Tucson Medical Center, Independent Area Physicians Establish Region's First Fully Operational Accountable Care Organization

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Tucson Medical Center, Independent Area Physicians Establish Region's First Fully Operational Accountable Care Organization

New Model to Transform Care Delivery and Improve Community Health

TUCSON, Ariz., and EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn., June 9, 2011 – Tucson Medical Center and local physicians, with the help of health technology and services company Optum, today announced they are creating the nation's first "Sustainable Health Community," based on an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) model in which hospitals, physicians, residents, employers and others share in the risk and rewards of making the health system work better for everyone.

This new model helps hospitals, participating physicians and health plans collaborate to better coordinate care, improve quality and, ultimately, increase consumers' satisfaction with the health system.

"This is a new level of collaboration among hospitals and physicians that is all focused on improving both the quality of care we provide to individuals and the overall health of our community," said Judy Rich, president and CEO of Tucson Medical Center. "We believe that Optum's capabilities help make this collaboration possible and solve some of our biggest challenges – ranging from analytics that help measure the quality of outcomes for patients, to secure networks that enable primary care physicians and specialists to share important information about their patients' care, to consulting expertise that will help us build and manage our new business model successfully."

The Tucson initiative is designed around two related but separate organizations. Southern Arizona Accountable Care Organization (SAACO), including Tucson Medical Center and independent physicians in the community, is organized to coordinate care delivery and participate in shared savings contracts. A related technology and administrative managed services organization (MSO) will provide the infrastructure support required to make SAACO successful. The MSO will be developed with a focus on office centers of excellence that support the relationship between caregivers and patients by enabling connectivity and the sharing of information to improve decision-making, promote use of best practices, and improve the continuity of care provided to Tucson residents.

Key components of the alliance include:

  • Development of four Office Centers of Excellence – The Office of Analytics, Office of Technology, and Office of Contracting will be supported by health information, technology and consulting company OptumInsight, and the Office of Care Coordination will be supported by the population health management expertise of OptumHealth and OptumRx. These centers will provide the analytics to help SAACO determine areas in need of change, measure progress, and manage the information and connectivity that are the foundation for relationships among all stakeholders in the health system.
  • Advanced health data and analytics capabilities – Optum will provide the information and connectivity between Tucson Medical Center and its community of independent physicians to ensure information is available to support decisions at the point of care, and that important patient health information is effectively shared among the people who care for them.
  • Shared risks and rewards – Physicians participating in SAACO will share in the savings resulting from their focus on implementing best practices. Participating physicians have agreed to be measured and rewarded based upon their delivery of high-quality patient care, patient satisfaction, and reduced costs – as well as effective management of care for the chronically ill and efficient transitions of care for patients. Optum will provide the analytical tools that help physicians identify best practices and measure their own performance in these areas.

John Friend, vice president of business affairs and associate general counsel for Tucson Medical Center and CEO of SAACO, noted that shared savings will be allocated to physicians and the hospital based on achieving goals for improved health in the community and greater efficiency in the health system.

"With new capabilities that enable us to measure how our actions are making a difference in the lives of the members of our community, we will be able to establish benchmarks based on national standards, and provide data that demonstrate better quality of care, greater efficiency and, eventually, improved health for the Tucson community overall," said Friend. "We invite the interest of our industry peers and colleagues across the nation."

Tucson's efforts to improve health through greater collaboration started three years ago when it became one of three initial Brookings-Dartmouth ACO Collaborative pilot project sites. Today Tucson's initiative has grown into a much broader model and vision.

G. Mike Mikan, CEO of Optum said, "At Optum we are excited and honored by the opportunity to apply our capabilities to help create a Sustainable Health Community that is connected, intelligent and aligned. We believe that what we learn together with our partners in Tucson will not only improve health for residents of Tucson, but will also serve as an example for communities across the country that want to make their health systems work better for everyone."

Supporting Resources

About SAACO

The Southern Arizona Accountable Care Organization (SAACO) was established in 2010 on a shared governance model including independent physicians and Tucson Medical Center, and is likely to involve community participation in governance to directly involve the voice of patients and payers in decision making.

About Tucson Medical Center

Tucson Medical Center, licensed at 612 beds, has been Tucson's locally governed non-profit regional hospital for more than 65 years. TMC is Southern Arizona's leading provider for emergency care and pediatric care (including Tucson's first Pediatric Emergency Department), with top-notch intensive care units for adults, children and newborns. Other specialty areas include women's, maternity, cardiac, orthopedic, neuroscience, imaging and senior services.

About Optum

Optum is a leading information and technology-enabled health services business dedicated to making the health system work better for everyone. Optum is comprised of three companies – OptumHealth, OptumInsight and OptumRx – representing over 30,000 employees worldwide who collaborate to deliver integrated, intelligent solutions that work to modernize the health system, improve overall population health and build Sustainable Health Communities.