Estabishing an 'accountable care organization' in Grand Forks

Apr 19, 2016

The first of its kind in North Dakota.

Altru – the Grand Forks Medical center – and Medica – an insurance company – are setting up what’s called an “Accountable Care Organization” – the first of its kind in North Dakota.

"It's a way to incent providers, patients and insurers to work together to manage population health, rather than each entity focusing on their own function," said Altru Chief Financial Dwight Thompson.

Thompson says the ACO was created for employers. He says the insurer and provider will work together – and it will help provide better medical care.

"The patients that work for that employer will be able to have a closer relationship with a care coordinator, a primary care doctor," Thompson said. "They work together so, if there's a work injury, or something like that, it's much more timely care. And you can get to the right place at the right time more quickly."

Thompson says it will also provide a single point of contact, where a patient can call to discuss what was done – and what the insurance company would cover. He says this will benefit the patient.

"The overall end objective would be to have a group of patients be healthier over time, than they would going through the current system," said Thompson.

Accountable Care Organizations are allowed as part of the federal Affordable Care act. Thompson expects several thousand people will enroll in the ACO.