Feds choose 3 Minn. health systems for national program

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has chosen three Minnesota health systems to take part in a national program designed to improve patient care while lowering costs to Medicare.

The Pioneer Accountable Care Organization program will test different ways of paying hospitals and doctors based on the quality and cost of the care they provide rather than the number of procedures or tests they perform.

Allina Health System, Fairview Health Services and Park Nicollet Health Services — all based in the Twin Cities — were chosen for the Pioneer ACO program.

Fairview's Dr. David Moen said the Pioneer ACO program will allow Fairview to build on what's it already been trying to do.

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"Much of the work we have done is improving care in the way that will be rewarded like a model like this," Moen said. "This will be better for our patients."

Allina's Dr. Penny Wheeler said the idea is to better coordinate a patient's care to improve quality and lower costs.

"This program will allow us to learn how well we're doing at making that care seamless for our patients and how that's translating into better quality and affordability," Wheeler said.

Park Nicollet CEO Dr. David Abelson said the program fits into that organization's strategy "to systematically change the payment from volume ... to being rewarded for the value we create."

Nationally, a total of 32 health systems were chosen to participate.

Mayo Clinic and Duluth-based Essentia Health did not apply for the program. Mayo said in a statement that it's "pursuing a number of value-based payment options with various partners, but decided not to participate in the federal government pilot programs."