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Horizon, Hunterdon partner on ACO program

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Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, in Newark, announced today it is launching an accountable-care organization program in partnership with Hunterdon Healthcare Partners.

According to an announcement from the companies, the ACO will benefit more than 18,000 Horizon Blue members in Hunterdon, Somerset and Mercer counties. Nineteen Hunterdon Healthcare Partners doctors' offices will be part of the program.

Accountable-care organizations represent a new approach to health care delivery that seeks to coordinate medical care, engage patients in their own wellness, and improve health and control costs.

Since July 2012, Hunterdon Healthcare Partners has participated in one of Horizon's patient-centered medical home programs, which aim to provide structured, proactive and coordinated care for patients, rather than episodic treatments for illnesses. The expansion to an ACO is hoped to better coordinate care, with participating practices taking on increased accountability for improving quality outcomes for Horizon members, while reducing care costs.

The PCMH approach has improved outcomes and reduced emergency room visits, according to Jim Albano, vice president of network management and Horizon Healthcare Innovations at Horizon Blue.

"Expanding this relationship as a patient-centered ACO adds more accountability to improve health outcomes, and maintains a team-based, coordinated approach to care," Albano said in prepared remarks.

Under the ACO, Horizon provides participating practices with funding to support nurses, called population care coordinators, on site at all practice locations to oversee treatment and engage patients.

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