Carilion Clinic to launch ‘accountable care’ program

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Starting next year, Roanoke-based Carilion Clinic will be involved in a pilot program aimed at improving care and promoting wellness while lowering costs.

Carilion officials say that, under the program, health-care providers will have more incentives to keep patients healthy so that they can avoid expensive medications and hospital treatments.

According to, Carilion is one of five health systems that have volunteered for the “Accountable Care Organization” project sponsored by two health-care policy groups, the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at the Brookings Institution and the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. The other health systems are in Arizona, Iowa, Kentucky and Vermont.

“We understand that rising health care costs are not sustainable and that provider leadership is essential to reforms that reduce costs, improve efficiency, and are accountable for clinical outcomes,” says Dr. Edward Murphy, Carilion Clinic’s president and CEO. “As providers, we are best equipped to develop solutions that keep patient care and quality at the center of the discussion.”

The pilot program is based on the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) concept developed by Dr. Elliott Fisher, director of the Center for Health Policy Research at the Dartmouth Institute, and Dr. Mark McClellan, director of the Engelberg Institute.

In a paper published in January, they proposed setting spending targets for ACOs based on the predicted costs of treating patients. ACOs meeting quality standards and holding costs below the spending targets would receive bonus payments in addition to their savings.

“Our current payment system rewards overuse and often penalizes those who improve care,” Fisher said in a statement announcing the concept in January. “The ACO shared-savings model supports and rewards those who improve care and lower costs.

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