NC ACO Collaborative Shares Experiences and Ideas

NC ACO CollaborativeA dozen representatives with experience in and enthusiasm for the move to accountable care organizations (ACO) as a viable new healthcare model, met at Coastal Carolina Health Care in New Bern for the first quarter meeting of the NC ACO Collaborative. Stephen Nuckolls, CEO of Coastal Carolina, a 50-provider multi-specialty physician owned medical practice, hosted the gathering. 

Attendees, which included representatives from Cornerstone Healthcare, Key Physicians, Wilmington Health, Ortho Carolina and Eagle Physicians among others, shared their experiences and ideas about transitioning to accountable, value-driven health care delivery systems and how best to facilitate the transition.

Before taking the group on a tour of Coastal Carolina’s facilities, Nuckolls spoke about the process to become an ACO, which began for Coastal Carolina a year ago and is still evolving. He presented statistics showing the increased use of the group’s urgent care facilities and the decrease in more costly emergency room visits and hospital admissions. By analyzing patient data, Coastal Carolina also is providing preventive care to head off more complicated and expensive services, he said, resulting in overall savings. A healthcare team, which may include a nurse, a care manager, and perhaps a nutritionist in addition to a doctor, helps patients adhere to the recommendations, thus lowering overall costs.

“Doctors need to get ready,” Nuckolls told the group. “They need to prepare for this [model of care].”

Melanie Phelps, Associate Executive Director of the NCMS Foundation and NCMS Deputy General Counsel, updated attendees on the Toward Accountable Care (TAC) Consortium. TAC is made up of 36 healthcare organizations committed to moving toward accountable care.  A general Toolkit is available with an overview of how to transition to this model, along with a growing number of specialty specific Toolkits.  Bo Bobbitt of Smith Anderson law firm in Raleigh, who authored the Toolkits, will be presenting a Webinar on ACOs on April 17 in conjunction with the NC Medical Group Managers.  A TAC guide to shared-savings also is being developed.  A new TAC website will debut shortly, but in the meantime the Toolkits and more information about TAC  is available here.


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