HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Reviews Pilot ACO

Collaboration between Catholic Healthcare West, Blue Shield of California, and Hill Physicians called "one of the best examples of patient care in the country."

San Francisco, CA - September 16, 2011 - Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today visited a San Francisco hospital where she was briefed by health care leaders and program participants on a collaborative project that enhanced quality outcomes and patient satisfaction while reducing costs. Sebelius joined an industry roundtable at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, a site for the second of two virtual Accountable Care Organization (ACO) pilot programs.

The hospital is a member of Catholic Healthcare West, which along with Blue Shield of California and Hill Physicians Medical Group launched the integrated care delivery model in 2009 that kept 44,000 CalPERS members' premium payments flat while reducing hospital readmissions by 22 percent and saving $20 million in costs. Following that successful launch, Blue Shield, Hill Physicians, and CHW expanded the program earlier this year, bringing in UCSF Medical Center in the care of City and County of San Francisco employees, retirees, and dependents.

"This program is on our radar screen as one of the best examples of patient care in the country, and the kind of care that people elsewhere hope to enjoy in the future," Secretary Sebelius said. "One of the things I want to do is be informed by what is happening here, and make sure we're using the strategies that work as we make policy decisions to help move this forward around the country."

"It is our distinct privilege to host Secretary Sebelius today, and we are honored that she has come here to learn more about this innovative program," said Lloyd H. Dean, President/CEO of Catholic Healthcare West. "Our collaboration is living proof that the goal of health reform is achievable -- doctors, hospitals, and health plans can come together to share information and deliver coordinated, efficient, quality care."

Sebelius heard from Victoria Eberle, a CalPERS health care manager who experienced the virtual ACO program first hand when she suffered a life-threatening variant of preeclampsia known as HELLP syndrome during her pregnancy. Her newborn daughter was hospitalized for seven weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit at Mercy San Juan Hospital in Sacramento following early delivery. Because of the coordinated care, Eberle said, she could focus on her daughter's health without worrying about paperwork or physician authorizations.

"I never had to worry about anything," Eberle said. "I honestly believe because of this program that I and my daughter are here to share this story with you about this incredible program of communication and great doctoring. What this did was exemplify the communication between all parties involved so it was seamless, so that I could concentrate on getting better and making my daughter well."


Watch the video of the roundtable discussion.

Watch the highlights of the ACO program