Tuesday, July 10, 2012

ACOs Impact on RHCs

The University of Central Florida in Orlando is investigating the care provided by Rural Health Clinics (RHC) to older adults in the southern region of the U.S. Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) offer potential opportunities to RHCs despite several rural issues that can affect ACO participation. The study will help policy leaders make decisions to help strengthen the healthcare safety net in rural America.

RHCs face numerous challenges since they generally serve communities with higher rates of chronic disease as compared to urban communities and it is especially difficult to attract and retain qualified professional staff.

The study will look at whether:

  • A higher percentage of provider-based RHCs are more likely to participate in ACOs as compared to independent RHCs
  • RHCs in networks  are more likely to participate in ACOs than unaffiliated RHCs
  • Large RHCs are more likely to participate in ACOs rather than small RHCs
  • RHC participation in ACOs is positively related to the reduction of disparities with older adult rural patients
  • RHC participation in ACOs is positively related to quality of care practices are taking into consideration as to ethnic/racial distribution in rural areas
  • RHC participation in ACOs will have a positive impact on cost efficiency and preventive care effectiveness
Seven years of organizational and community-related data with a panel of approximately 800 RHCs will be examined to develop more general ideas on the factors that contribute to RHC performance and outcomes and issues related to public health

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) is providing the grant support for the study which began in 2011 and will continue to 2015. The Doctoral Program in Public Affairs, at the College of Health and Public Affairs, at the University of Central Florida will conduct the research.

For more information, on the study “Rural Health Clinics in Accountable Care Organizations: Impact on Disparities”, contact Dr. Thomas T Wan, Principal Investigator for the study at (407) 823-3678 or email thomas.wan@ucf.edu.