BJC ACO Works To Improve Health Care for Seniors

In 2012 BJC became the first health care provider in the St. Louis area to take on the challenge of forming an accountable care organization to take better care of seniors. Letters were sent to 25,000 of the Medicare fee-for-service patients covered by BJC’s Accountable Care Organization (ACO) in October and December informing them that their doctor was a member of BJC ACO.

“We believe we have the ‘world’s best medicine’ – and this makes it better,” says Sandra Van Trease, group president of BJC HealthCare and president of BJC Accountable Care Organization. “We believe that by working together with our patients in a new way, we can help them get and stay healthier.”

This happened, in part, through improved care coordination and disease management for patients.

“BJC Accountable Care Organization includes all BJC hospitals, BJC home health and BJC Medical Group. Everyone in the BJC family is part of this team,” says Dave Knocke, president of BJC Medical Group and chief administrative officer for the ACO.

“The benefit to a patient from this expanded focus on care coordination really comes from the ability of  the patient and his or her physician to share information; to sit down and have a very robust conversation about the care needs of that patient,” says Van Trease. “This results in an individualized care plan that the patient and physician develop together which addresses the needs of the patient related to his or her health status.”

According to Doug Pogue, MD, ACO medical director, physicians will appreciate the experience of accountable care as well. “Most of us go into practice because we want to take great care of the patient. Accountable care is going to help us do that.

“At least once a year patients will meet with their physicians and spend time going over every aspect of their care. This results in a flow of information that goes to every single doctor and other clinician involved with the patient’s care and allows everyone to be on the same page as the primary care physician.

“There are benefits for our specialists as well,” Dr. Pogue says. “When they have patients come into their office they haven’t seen in awhile, there is a care plan from the primary care physician that shows not only who is involved in the patient’s care, but exactly what’s going on. It allows the specialist to know his or her role in the care and to whom to communicate the results. That makes everyone’s life easier and most importantly provides the patient with better care.”

Van Trease adds that the ACO also focuses on managing chronic conditions. “The physicians and other health care professionals develop an in-depth understanding of the health of the patient and, working with the patient, develop individualized plans to reach their health goals. The patient with a chronic condition has a very dedicated focus around that condition,” Van Trease says.  

Patient health information shared by Medicare is carefully handled. “When information comes to BJC ACO from Medicare, it is being shared in a safe and confidential way,” Knocke says.  “We treat that information carefully and use it only so we can improve a patient’s individual care. When we understand what’s happening with a patient’s health – everything that’s happening with them - we can understand how to best serve them.”

To learn more about BJC ACO, watch short interviews with Dr. Pogue, Van Trease and Knocke on www.bjcaco.org.

ACO Fast Facts

  • 31,117 attributed Medicare beneficiaries
  • 610 + providers (150+  primary care physicians, 130+  nurse practitioners/physician assistants, 330+ specialists)
  • All BJC hospitals (except St. Louis Children’s Hospital), BJC Home Care Services and BJC Long Term Care are participants
  • Began July 1, 2012
  • 3.5 year contract ends 12/31/2015