The Phoenix-based Banner Health Network (BHN), one of 23 accountable care organizations (ACOs) nationwide selected to participate in the Medicare Pioneer ACO program, announced that its quality score for 2013 increased 19% from the previous year, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

“Our providers are delivering high quality, coordinated care. The care they want to deliver,” said Shaun Anand, MD, medical director for BHN. “They are rewarded for providing holistic care to BHN’s members and beneficiaries, and given the infrastructure, information, and resources they need to be efficient and effective in preventive, chronic, and acute care.”

Under the Pioneer ACO program, participating provider networks benefit by returning increased savings to Medicare. Rather than leveraging profits through increased volume of services, Pioneer ACOs receive a percentage of Medicare savings. Providers must adhere to evidence-based care and may be at risk in the event that actual costs exceed estimated benchmarks. The program aims to control costs by providing highly coordinated, high-quality care and aggressively managing chronic and acute illnesses. Although 32 organizations were originally selected, only 23 opted to continue the program after its first year.

In 2013, BHN’s second year participating in the program, the network contributed $15 million, or 16%, of the total $96 million in savings returned to CMS. BHN is currently participating in performance year 3 (2014) and has recruited additional physicians to further develop its program for performance year 4 (2015).

“Highly engaged provider partners, information technology tools and an organizational commitment to value-based care were key elements of our success,” said Chuck Lehn, CEO of BHN. “Supporting beneficiaries when they were most at risk and in need of medical advocacy—after a new diagnosis, following hospital discharge, or as a result of multiple emergency department visits, for example—has also been an important strategy in this program.”

In addition to participating in the Medicare Pioneer ACO, BHN maintains accountable care relationships with several commercial payers, including Aetna, Cigna, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, and UnitedHealthcare, among others.

For more information, visit Banner Health Network.