One key aspect of the federal health overhaul law is a transition away from a fee-for-service system, where hospitals and doctors get paid, for example, per lab test or re-admission. To help test new models under so-called Obamacare, 32 hospitals nationwide launched an alternative system called an Accountable Care Organization (ACO).
Results released today looking at the first year of the program show Dartmouth-Hitchcock as one of 18 hospitals that succeeded in lowering costs compared to a control group of Medicare patients.
"Dartmouth is very pleased to be able to say that we bent the cost curve," says Dr. Barbara Walters, who is leading the project for Dartmouth-Hitchcock.
By better coordinating patient care and focusing on preventive services, Walters says Dartmouth was able to save the Federal government $1.6 million in Medicare spending. As a reward, Washington will let D-H keep about $1 million of that money.
The state's largest health system also scored well on quality of care measures, which are being closely monitored.
The pilot program is slated to run for three years.