Hello 2012! Welcome ACOs! As part of the Affordable Care Act, Accountable Care Organizations are set to begin springing up by Spring of this year. As I read it, the desired end of the story is pretty much the same as it has been: “and the cost of healthcare decreased and they all lived happily ever after!” In the previous version of the story this was the end that the Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and other managed care organizations was to have achieved. Alas, the sick remained sick and the cost of healthcare only went up. So what if the burden is shifted from those paying for healthcare (the HMO) to those providing healthcare: doctors, hospitals, home health companies etc., and incentivize quality care as well as cost savings. What if wellness saves money? Enter the ACO, an organization consisting of all the necessary pieces and parts of the healthcare continuum with a single goal: Improve and/or maintain the wellness of our patients with the minimum required expenditure to do so. Hmmm…this just may achieve the long awaited epilogue. Still, it may open a whole new chapter entitled “Patient, Heal Thyself!” There’s more on the topic in Accountable Care (Part 2).