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End‐of‐Life Care Planning in Accountable Care Organizations: Associations with Organizational Characteristics and Capabilities

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Health Services Research

Published online on


Objective To measure the extent to which accountable care organizations (ACOs) have adopted end‐of‐life (EOL) care planning processes and characterize those ACOs that have established processes related to EOL. Data Sources This study uses data from three waves (2012–2015) of the National Survey of ACOs. Respondents were 397 ACOs participating in Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial ACO contracts. Study Design This is a cross‐sectional survey study using multivariate ordered logit regression models. We measured the extent to which the ACO had adopted EOL care planning processes as well as organizational characteristics, including care management, utilization management, health informatics, and shared decision‐making capabilities, palliative care, and patient‐centered medical home experience. Principal Findings Twenty‐one percent of ACOs had few or no EOL care planning processes, 60 percent had some processes, and 19.6 percent had advanced processes. ACOs with a hospital in their system (OR: 3.07; p = .01), and ACOs with advanced care management (OR: 1.43; p = .02), utilization management (OR: 1.58, p = .00), and shared decision‐making capabilities (OR: 16.3, p = .000) were more likely to have EOL care planning processes than those with no hospital or few to no capabilities. Conclusions There remains considerable room for today's ACOs to increase uptake of EOL care planning, possibly by leveraging existing care management, utilization management, and shared decision‐making processes.