WINTER PARK - Florida Accountable Care Services (FACS) and UnitedHealthcare, a division of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), are launching an accountable care program to improve people's health and satisfaction with their healthcare experience.
The joint venture goes live April 1, and will focus largely on dedicating more resources to care coordination and making it easier to share important health information so that every doctor involved in a patient's care is on the same page with the treatment plan.
Of UnitedHealthcare's nearly 3.4 million participants in Florida, some 20,000 enrolled in the insurer's individual and employer-sponsored health plans are eligible to benefit from this collaboration.
Independent physicians, primary care doctors and specialists, now numbering nearly 400, created FACS four years ago to help Florida doctors manage and operate Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). After increasing physician awareness of the ACO model in Florida through partnerships with the Florida Medical Association and the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association, the FACS team turned to the Medicare Shared Savings Program and Commercial Accountable Care Models.
"Our primary goal now is to assist the independent physicians in Florida in the management and operations of ACOs and provide them with the tools, services, and technical expertise they'll need to succeed in the shifting landscape of health reform," said Sandeep Bajaj, MD, founder and CEO of FACS. "Our team is led and governed by Florida physicians for Florida physicians. Together, we've secured key partnerships with state and nationwide commercial insurance providers, and various Managed Care Organizations. Florida ACOs (have) the highest standards to ensure that all platforms it delivers are best in class, quality, and value."
Bajaj said FACS physicians are enthusiastic about partnering with UnitedHealthcare "to apply our expertise in healthcare innovation and patient-centered programs to improve the health of their plan participants and advance toward overall population health management."
"Together, we expect to achieve even better health outcomes and improve patient satisfaction, while reducing the overall cost of care," he said.
To mark the establishment of the ACO, FACS and UnitedHealthcare officials participated in a ribbon cutting celebrating the opening of the new Florida Emergent Care Center at FACS' Winter Park campus. The new center provides patients with a convenient, lower cost alternative to the emergency room for many of their healthcare needs. This new collaboration helps avoid duplicate tests or uncoordinated care by using shared technology, real-time data and information about emergency room visits and hospital admissions, and services designed to help patients manage their chronic health conditions and encourage healthy lifestyles.
UnitedHealthcare will supplement FACS' data to help support overall population health, giving the entire care team clear, actionable data about individual patients' health needs, potential gaps in care, and proactive identification of high-risk patients. Patient navigators may also facilitate and support community-based care coordination, such as aiding with planning after a patient is discharged from the hospital, and scheduling follow-up appointments.
"With this new accountable care program, we can help ensure that people receive more personalized and better connected care," said David Lewis, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of Central and North Florida. "Putting more resources into how their care is coordinated, and paying their care providers based on the quality of care and health outcomes, will significantly enhance people's ability to live healthier lives."
Care providers nationwide are showing strong interest in the shift to value-based care. UnitedHealthcare's total payments to physicians and hospitals that are tied to value-based arrangements have tripled in the last three years to $45 billion. By the end of 2018, UnitedHealthcare expects that figure to reach $65 billion.