ruler describing measurement in feet

ACS/Harvard Pioneer Value Measurement for Surgery

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) and Harvard Business School’s Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness have announced a new partnership that could eventually tell you what your surgery is really worth. The joint program, dubbed “ACS THRIVE,” will aim to improve patient outcomes while lowering the cost of care delivery. The method will seek a more comprehensive measurement of quality and costs, enabling surgical practices to improve the total value they can deliver as reimbursement shifts to value-based care models.

Exscribe wanted to know how the results from this endeavor could eventually benefit private and smaller orthopaedic surgery practices. Sarah Stackston, personally involved in the launch of the THRIVE program, provides exclusive insight for us here.


The program, entitled ACS THRIVE (Transforming Healthcare Resources to Increase Value and Efficiency), will involve hospital locations in the pilot later this year. Initially starting with 5-15 locations, program leaders expect to expand participation within the next two to three years. Eventually, the program will be open to all surgeons.

The process will seek to measure the full cycle of care for three selected surgical conditions, including surgical, medical, behavioral and social elements. Dr. Frank G. Opelka, Medical Director of ACS Quality and Health Policy, explained that such a wide scope is necessary to fully capture the surgical picture. “Surgical care involves teams of clinicians who begin delivering care in the preoperative phase, include anesthesia, nursing care and medical specialties and continues through to postoperative rehabilitation. As a team, we need to optimize each phase of care to provide the best outcomes for patients and meet their goals.”

Results from the pilot will be used to create a scalable tool, with the intent that all hospitals can use it to measure and improve surgical value. The method will include risk-adjusted benchmarks to allow for comparison and system-wide improvement.

Exclusive: Long-Term Benefits for All Surgeons

How will this collaboration benefit private and small orthopaedic surgery practices? Exscribe went right to the source, and obtained an exclusive response from Sarah Stackston, who has been personally involved in the launch of the THRIVE program:

“The program will involve measuring quality, which certainly benefits all surgeons and their patients. On the cost side, the measurement process developed by Harvard Business School will allow surgeons and hospitals to identify ways to improve efficiency and reduce costs while still maintaining necessary profit and without impacting quality of care. One example Dr. Kaplan [Prof. Robert Kaplan, PhD, Senior Fellow at Harvard Business School] shared at the kickoff event was using scribes as a lower-cost alternative for some documentation. The cost-measurement method will make some of these opportunities and their impact on the costs clear.”

Overall, Stackston says the ACS and Harvard Business School believe addressing costs helps make the healthcare system more sustainable for all stakeholders; “ACS THRIVE will help bring costs down without impacting quality, better enable bundled payment programs to succeed and encourage integrated care models.” As the value-based care model continues to march across the country, the program will be at the forefront of national efforts to ease the transition.

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