ACO with Hartford Healthcare – What Does It Mean for Us?

What it is

A voluntary collaboration, related to clinical care only and is separate from existing partnerships or affiliations.

What it is not

Not a merger, joint venture, or anything that involves the transfer of assets. As an ACO partner, Hartford Healthcare has no governance or other control over UConn Health.

For the past 9 months UConn Health has been pursuing the selection of an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) affiliation partner from among the surrounding health systems and physician groups in Connecticut.  An ACO is a group of doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers who voluntarily collaborate to coordinate care and ensure that patients receive the best care at the lowest possible cost. UConn Health’s process for seeking an ACO partner began with an October 2015 letter to 13 regional providers seeking interest in UConn Health joining one or more their ACOs “at a leadership level.” UConn Health followed these letters with meetings and phone calls with the CEOs and/or ACO representatives of these institutions. This process has concluded and UConn Health has selected Hartford Healthcare (HHC) to be its ACO partner.  The reasons for choosing HHC include that HHC leadership was extremely engaged and motivated to find a customized non-binding model for UConn Health that allowed for equal leadership. It was also viewed favorably that HHC has local leadership and a strong regional reputation as a quality healthcare provider.

Key characteristics associated with this ACO partnership are:

  1. The ACO partnership is voluntary non-binding collaboration that does not include any merger of assets, nor is this a form of  joint venture as that term is often used.
  1. It is essentially an agreement where the leadership of both entities will jointly identify and implement initiatives to improve the quality and costs of shared populations of patients.
  1. Once the ACO partnership identifies joint initiatives, the appropriate structures will be created
  1. UConn Health and HHC has equal leadership in the collaboration.
  1. To ensure maximum flexibility, UConn Health is not joining HHC ‘s existing ACO (“ICP”) rather this is a separate collaboration that will benefit from ICP’s experience without becoming a member of ICP.
  1. The ACO partnership does not affect existing clinical or other relationships with other regional health systems or providers.
  1. This ACO partnership pertains to clinical care, not education or research.
  1. This initial ACO partnership does not include any payment or receipt of funds.

What Happens Next?

UConn Health leadership and HHC leadership will work together over the next few months to identify specific initiatives that will increase the quality and decrease the costs of care for shared patients. We look forward to sharing these initiatives as they are contemplated and developed.