Last week’s Accountable Care Symposium was a celebration of a successful year, a chance to hear about what is coming in 2019, and an opportunity to network with colleagues old and new. Here are just a few highlights from the two-day event.

Photo: Lynn Barr presenting her 2019 preview

Caravan Health CEO and founder Lynn Barr kicked off the symposium by reviewing our success in 2018 and laying out a plan to tackle the road ahead, including some big changes coming in the new year. When it comes to ACOs, bigger is definitely better, and we are putting this into practice in 2019. We are moving from 38 total ACOs to 17 by combining lives for more predictable results. The new, larger ACOs will include the largest single ACO nationwide with 220,000 attributed lives as well as the first ever statewide ACO created with a state hospital association. Mississippi hospitals have joined us as a Caravan Health Collaborative ACO  – we had the chance to hear directly from the Mississippi Hospital Association.

Photo: Lynn Barr and Paul Gardner

Paul Gardner Director of Rural Health for the Mississippi Hospital Association gave a preview of the novel statewide ACO model. Nearly half the hospitals in Mississippi will come together in an ACO (as well as a clinically integrated network) in January with about 80 thousand attributed lives. Paul says that, without Caravan Health’s efforts, rural Mississippi hospitals might have been shut out of ACO participation. This new ACO opportunity allows Mississippi hospitals to share in savings and get access to more data that can help improve care for patients.

To get a sense of what’s coming next in health care, Caravan Health President Tim Gronniger sat down for a conversation with former acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt. Andy is a general partner at Town Hall Ventures, a health care investment firm, and shared his thoughts about a wide range of issues, including the prospect of a single payer system, what drives health care professionals to do their best for their patients, and his personal experience coming to Washington after the site crashed. Andy also spoke about how mental health investments and the social determinants of health can be easily overlooked, and the potentially devastating results.

Photo: Amy Bassano from CMS/CMMI

We were fortunate to hear some of CMS’s priorities directly from Amy Bassano, Deputy Director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. Amy filled us in about what is coming next for the Innovation Center; in addition to running 30 payment and delivery models, CMMI recently put out a public request for input about the new direction with the goal of promoting patient-centered care and test market driven reforms. We can expect to see new models, possibly including a direct provider contracting initiative, come out of this public input. CMS is determined to build on what we have learned from both the Medicare Shared Savings Program and various primary care initiatives such as CPC+.

This is just a small glimpse of all that took place at this year’s symposium in Phoenix. Attendees could choose from dozens of breakout sessions to learn about clinical practice, leadership, and innovation. We also honored our 2018 Population Health Pioneer Award winners at a banquet dinner. The symposium was a great way to cap off another outstanding year at Caravan Health.

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