The Affordable Care Act (ACA) attempts to change the way we finance and deliver health care by coordinating the delivery of primary, specialty, and hospital services in accountable care organizations. The ways in which accountable care organizations will develop and evolve is unclear; however, the effects on surgeons and their patients will be substantial. High-value care in the ACA emphasizes quality, safety, resource use and appropriateness, and the patient's experience of care. Payment will be linked to these principles. Department chairs overseeing a clinical enterprise in academic medical centers now must add financial and quality measures to the traditional missions of education, research, and clinical service. At a time when surgical training is in dramatic evolution, with work hour limitations for residents and an emphasis on quality, productivity, and increasing oversight of trainees for faculty, residency programs will need to meet the increasing demands of an aging population and newly insured patients under the ACA. The American College of Surgeons, with its century-long commitment to quality improvement, research-based standards, and performance measurement and verification, has begun its Inspiring Quality Campaign, is developing new educational tools, and is preparing proposals for payment reform based on surgeons' participation in quality programs.
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