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Am J Public Health. 2015 May;105(5):840-6. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302483. Epub 2015 Mar 19.

Public health departments and accountable care organizations: finding common ground in population health.

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The authors are with the Department of Health Management and Policy, University of Kentucky College of Public Health, Lexington. F. Douglas Scutchfield is also with the National Coordinating Center for Public Health Services and Systems Research and the Department of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health, University of Kentucky College of Public Health.


We examined areas of potential collaboration between accountable care organizations and public health agencies, as well as perceived barriers and facilitators. We interviewed 9 key informants on 4 topics: advantages of public health agency involvement in accountable care organizations; services public health agencies could provide; practical, cultural, and legal barriers to accountable care organization-public health agency involvement; and business models that facilitate accountable care organization-public health agency collaboration. Public health agencies could help accountable care organizations partner with community organizations and reach vulnerable patients, provide population-based services and surveillance data, and promote policies that improve member health. Barriers include accountable care organizations' need for short-term financial yield, limited public health agency technical and financial capacity, and the absence of a financial model.

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