Primary care physicians more open to ACOs than most specialties

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In a survey of more than 1,400 physicians, 61% of primary care physicians said they'd be willing to participate in an accountable care organization with at least one payer.

Primary care physicians expressed a greater willingness to join an accountable care organization (ACO) than several other specialties, according to a recent survey from a physician staffing firm.

In a survey of more than 1,400 physicians across various specialties, 61% of primary care physicians (PCPs) said they'd be willing to participate in an ACO with at least one payer, according to

That beat psychiatry (60%), surgery (55%), radiology (55%), and emergency medicine (44%). Only anesthesiologists, at 73%, expressed a greater willingness than PCPs to join an ACO.

PCPs expressed a similar level of acceptance of ACOs in another recent survey, which found that half planned to join an ACO within the next year.

An ACO is a value-based payment model in which participants are incentivized to cut costs and boost efficiency by being eligible to earn a portion of the savings those measures generate. Participants typically include hospitals, physician groups, and public payers such as Medicare or private payers such as major health insurers.

In terms of payers physicians who were willing to participate in an ACO, Medicare was the overwhelming favorite at 41%, according to the survey. Commercial payers were less popular at 24%, followed by Medicaid at 12%.

Perhaps the biggest barrier to establishing ACOs is a healthcare culture that's reluctant to abandon the fee-for-service model of payment towards one that rewards the value of care, American Medical News reported recently.


“So every time we standardize around best practices, improve efficiencies and eliminate waste, that potentially results in decreased compensation to providers and others in the healthcare system, and that concept of functioning with one foot in two canoes is certainly a challenging one.” says Hal Teitelbaum, MD, chief executive officer of Crystal Run Healthcare in Middletown, New York.


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